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UK parliament speaker says election cannot happen before October 31

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow gestures at the parliament, which reconvenes after the UK Supreme Court ruled that Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of the parliament was unlawful, in London, Britain, September 25, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Parliament TV via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons John Bercow said on Thursday that, under existing rules, a national election could not be held before the country is due to leave the European Union at the end of October.

Labour lawmaker Richard Burgon asked Bercow whether it was correct that due to rules about the amount of time needed to arrange a national election, the earliest one could now take place is Nov. 5.

“I can confirm that my understanding of the electoral timetable under the existing statutory framework is the same as his,” Bercow said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has twice asked parliament to approve holding an early election but opposition parties say they do not want to agree to one until the risk of a no-deal Brexit has been removed.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison