Johnson Seeks Dec. 12 General Election to Break Brexit Deadlock
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will seek a general election on Dec. 12, setting up a national vote on his Brexit strategy.
Johnson briefed his cabinet on Thursday afternoon and announced that a motion will be put to Parliament for a vote on Monday. It will need a two-thirds majority for an election to be called.
“It is our duty to end this nightmare and provide the country with a solution as soon as we reasonably can,” Johnson said in a letter to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appealing for his lawmakers to support the move. “These repeated delays have been bad for the economy, bad for businesses, and bad for millions of people trying to plan their futures.”
The European Union is widely expected to grant a three-month extension when ambassadors meet in Brussels on Friday, putting back the U.K.’s exit until Jan. 31. Johnson said in an interview with the BBC that he will give MPs more time to debate his Brexit deal if they agree to the Dec. 12 date.
“The way to get Brexit done is I think to be reasonable with Parliament and say ‘If they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal, they can have it but they have to agree to a general election on December 12,” Johnson said in a pooled TV interview. “It’s time frankly that the opposition summoned up the nerve to submit themselves to the judgement of our collective boss which is the people of the U.K.”
Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, Johnson would need two-thirds of MPs to back the motion, giving Labour an effective veto if all of its 245 MPs hold the party line. He’s twice failed to win Parliaments support for an early national vote.
There will need to be 25 working days after it is dissolved before an election can be held if Parliament gives its approval.
If Corbyn commits to voting for a general election next week and the EU offers the requested extension, Johnson said the government “will make available all possible time between now and Nov. 6 for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be discussed and voted through, including Fridays, weekends, the earliest starts and the latest finishes.”
“This means that we could get Brexit done before the election on Dec. 12, if MPs choose to do so,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson pledged “do or die” to get Brexit done by the existing deadline of Oct. 31, and tried to get parliamentary approval for an accelerated timetable to pass his agreement into U.K. law. But MPs — who voted in favor of the deal in principle — rejected a three-day schedule for the draft bill on Tuesday.
Johnson was required to seek a Brexit extension to Jan. 31 when he failed to get a deal through Parliament by Oct. 19 and the EU is due to give its formal response on Friday morning.
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