Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has said it would support Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for a December election, although the date remains to be fixed.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the European Union’s decision to delay Brexit had met his demand to remove the threat of a disorderly divorce.
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“Labour will back a general election,” said Corbyn. “The Labour Party loves a debate but they also love the end of the debate, and this is the end of the debate: We are going out there to win.”
Johnson has been trying for weeks to call a snap election, and has been thwarted three times, failing to get the necessary two-thirds super-majority needed. On Tuesday, however, he is expected to take a different legislative track and suggest an amendable bill, which only requires a simple majority to succeed.
Johnson’s administration had wanted to hold an election on December 12, while the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats – smaller opposition parties – had said they would support a December 9 poll.
The three-day difference may not seem important, but a slightly earlier election means Johnson will not have time to push through his Brexit legislation before Parliament is dissolved. Heading to a general election on the back of such a major political victory for Johnson – such as the UK departing the EU – is not something his opponents are eager to do.
The prime minister is reportedly willing to compromise and have a December 11 election. He has also said he would not bring his Brexit deal back to Parliament before then.
Green MP Caroline Lucas, who has been working for a second referendum on Brexit, said Labour’s decision to back a December vote was “hugely disappointing”.
She tweeted: “Why give Johnson exactly what he wants? Election – esp under First Past the Post – won’t resolve Brexit.”
Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from Westminster, said many politicians were not keen on a December poll.
“There are many reasons why politicians don’t like an election in December. They worry people might not want to answer their doors when campaigners go around,” Lee said.
“Also logistical problems in some parts of the country because of weather challenges. But, frankly, they have no choice but to do it,” he added.
Johnson was forced to abandon his “do-or-die” pledge to leave the bloc on October 31 – this Thursday – and begrudgingly accepted another extension from Brussels until the end of January next year.
Britain’s inability to break its half-century bond with the EU has called a halt to costly “no-deal” exit preparations and reportedly seen hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of freshly-minted 50-pence commemorative Brexit coins melted down.
Johnson is now trying to secure an early general election in a bid to win a majority that could allow him to push through legislation to enact Brexit.
He consulted his cabinet ministers early on Tuesday to plot strategy in advance of another gruelling session of the House of Commons that could stretch into the night.
“This house cannot any longer keep this country hostage,” Johnson told legislators after they defeated Monday’s election attempt.
His attempt on Tuesday may be subject to amendments being added – any of which may cause the government to withdraw the bid – such as lowering the voting age to 16, holding a second Brexit referendum, or extending the voting franchise to EU citizens resident in the UK.