Relief for PM Boris Johnson as MPs vote for 12 Dec election
30 October 2019
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally succeeded in his bid to force an early general election on Tuesday, with MPs voting in favour of holding general elections on 12 December, a day after they rejected a similar attempt.
Hours after the EU formally agreed to postpone Britain's departure again, up to the end of January, parliament voted for the country's third election in four years, amid a Brexit deadlock
The House of Commons approved the bill by a margin of 430 to 20, paving the way for the general election ahead of the extended Brexit deadline of 31 January.
This meant Johnson's "do or die" pledge to leave the economic bloc by the 31 October deadline was effectively dead and the only way out was to push through an early poll to try and change the equations in Parliament.
An election at this juncture is a gamble for Johnson, who leads a minority Conservative government whose MPs are not supportive of the current Brexit deal struck with Brussels less than two weeks ago.
His Conservatives are currently well ahead of the opposition Labour party in opinion polls, and he hopes to win a majority in the lower House of Commons in order to push through his Brexit plan.
The election outcome could have huge implications for Britain's tortuous Brexit process, which began with the 2016 EU referendum.
Labour is committed to a new "people's vote", while two smaller opposition parties want to reverse Brexit.
Many Labour MPs are wary of an election, fearful of defeat under their leftist leader Jeremy Corbyn, but he swung his support behind the poll.
The election bill will now go to the upper House of Lords for debate on Wednesday, but peers are expected to back the plan, paving the way for parliament to be dissolved early next week.
Johnson took office in July promising to end the wrangling over Brexit which has bitterly divided the country, but a rebellion over his hardline strategy left him without a majority in parliament.
Unable to win MPs' support for new divorce terms he struck with Brussels, he was forced by law earlier this month to ask EU leaders for a delay.
Ahead of the vote in parliament, European Council President Donald Tusk confirmed the formal adoption of Monday's decision by EU envoys to accept a Brexit delay of up to three months.
"To my British friends, The EU27 has formally adopted the extension. It may be the last one. Please make the best use of this time," he tweeted.
The UK PM can only hold an early election with the support of MPs. Johnson's succeeded in holding the snap poll after three failed attempts previously.