- Boris Johnson has admitted he will fail to fulfil his ‘do-or-die’ pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31.
- Instead, he is offering parliament more time to scrutinise Brexit legislation, but on the condition they agree to a general election on December 12.
- The move threw the Labour party into chaos, with many of its MPs ready to defy Jeremy Corbyn if he instructs them to vote in favour of an election.
- “We know you don’t run into an election when you don’t have to. And why would we want to ruin everyone’s Christmas?” said Labour MP Barry Sheerman.
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Boris Johnson has admitted he will break his “do or die” pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31 and has called instead for an election on December 12.
But in order to secure a Christmas election, the prime minister will need the opposition Labour party to back the plan. It is far from clear if they will do so. Those around Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn back a poll but most Labour Members of Parliament oppose one due to the party’s poor performance in current opinion polls.
So will there be a general election in the UK before the end of the year? Here’s what’s going on.
Why did Johnson call for an election?
The prime minister said an election was required to break the Brexit deadlock after parliament voted on Tuesday for his Brexit bill but rejected the timetable for scrutinising it and asked for more time.
Johnson’s new offer is to allow MPs to debate his Withdrawal Agreement Bill until November 6, but only if they agree to an election on December 12.
If the Commons rejects his plan, he has threatened to pull the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and put the government “on strike” until he is given his election.
Downing Street believes that parliament will continue to delay Brexit unless it is given a clear deadline.
Under the terms of the plan, MPs would have until November 6 to decide whether to approve the legislation before entering a highly unpredictable election.
Will Labour back an election?
Under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act, two-thirds of MPs will need to back a general election on Monday to trigger one.
The Labour party has been thrown into chaos over whether to back a snap poll. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has refused to rule one out, saying on Thursday that no final decision has been taken on the prime minister’s proposal.
However, Labour’s chief whip had moments earlier sent an email to the party’s MPs telling them to abstain on Monday’s motion, which would prevent Johnson from securing an election.
Corbyn insisted he would make the decision as soon as the EU had decided how long to delay Brexit for.
Donald Tusk, the European Council President, had been expected to announce the today that the UK’s request for a three-month delay until January 31 had been granted.
But that has been pushed back to next week after Brussels was blindsided by Johnson’s move to call an election.
Labour MPs want Corbyn to wait
The biggest problem for Corbyn is his own MPs, who overwhelmingly oppose a general election.
Many of them want Corbyn to rule out completely the prospect of an election, regardless of what the EU says.
Labour is trailing far behind the Conservatives in the polls and many fear they would lose their seats.
“We know you don’t run into an election when you don’t have to. And why would we want to ruin everyone’s Christmas?” Labour MP Barry Sheerman said last night.
Another Labour MP told the New Statesman that a December 12 election meant parliament would not resume sitting until mid-January, creating the possibility of an accidental no-deal Brexit on January 31.
Even if the party does whip its 243 MPs to vote for an election, it is far from clear they will do so.
Johnson would need at least 120 of those to back him if he was to secure an election, which looks unlikely.
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