Boris Johnson aims for December election

Boris Johnson has announced his third attempt at getting an early general election in order to change the make-up of Parliament.

The Prime Minister has asked MPs to back a motion for one to be held on December 12, with the sweetener of offering them more time to scrutinise his Brexit deal.

The next time the public are set to go to the polls in a national vote is 2022, but the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act provides one route to an early election.

The Government will use this law on Monday but the bid will only be successful with the backing of a “super majority” of two-thirds of MPs.

That means he would need the support of some Labour MPs.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party will only back an election when a no-deal Brexit is “taken off the table”.

What that means exactly, he did not make clear, but he did suggest it is dependent on what kind of extension is granted by the EU.

Mr Johnson was compelled to ask for one until the end of January, which he said was the “likely” outcome, but did say a short delay is still possible.

The Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru refused to give their backing for the election.

Recent YouGov polling of voting intention put the Tories on 37% while Labour trailed on 22%. The Lib Dems were on 19%.

Laura Lock, deputy chief executive of The Association of Electoral Administrators, has outlined potential problems with a December 12 election including a lack of polling stations.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “We have issues getting polling stations generally. There’s less and less public buildings available for people to use, but one of the key challenges that we have in December is that the polling stations already have bookings.

“For May polls they’re expecting us on the first Thursday in May. Here, we’re not even convinced all of the time that the election will take place on a Thursday. So, this morning I’m sure that our 2,000 members will be getting on the phones trying to book polling stations provisionally for December 12.

“But again, we don’t know whether the legislation will pass. We might be ending up doing it again for a different date very shortly.”

If he fails to get an election, Mr Johnson would essentially be a captive PM, unable to progress his deal and forced to abide by the extension granted by the EU.

In a threat interpreted as the Government effectively going on strike if it loses, a spokesman for the PM said: “Nothing will come before Parliament but the bare minimum.

“We will pursue a general election every day from then onwards and do everything we can to get it.”

And, according to a Number 10 source, that would include the Withdrawal Agreement Bill being pulled in that scenario.

That is the legislation that would enact the PM’s Brexit deal, which saw the initial backing of the Commons on Tuesday.

(Press Association)

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