The UK will hold general elections on December 12 in which Britons will decide the composition of the government that will be tasked with steering the country through the tortuous “Brexit” process of withdrawing from the European Union (EU).
The House of Commons on Tuesday backed the plan by conservative UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to hold a snap – or early – election, reported Efe news.
Johnson’s party is ahead in recent voter surveys and, with the balloting, he will be trying to recover his parliamentary majority so that he can ensure lawmakers’ ratification of his pact with the EU by which he intends to take Britain out of the European bloc.
Although the bill approved by MPs in the House of Commons still must be sent to the upper House of Lords for its approval, it is expected that it will move through that process and receive the consent of Queen Elizabeth II before November 6, when Parliament must be dissolved to comply with the schedule set forth in the electoral legislation.
The leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said Tuesday he would back a proposal for a snap general election in December now that the EU had granted an extension to the Brexit process.
The change in stance came as Johnson turned to two smaller opposition parties, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, in search of an alternative way to pass legislation on an early election after his earlier effort on Monday evening failed.
Labour abstained during Monday’s vote, in which support for Johnson fell short of the necessary two-thirds of members of the House of Commons.
Johnson sees snap elections as a way of boosting his power in Parliament, where he is currently plagued by Conservative Party rebels and shaky support from the Democratic Unionist Party.
This will be the third general election in less than five years in the UK and the first to be held in the winter since 1923 in a country that normally holds its votes in May or June to ensure good weather so that more voters can easily get to the polls.
Current public support for the various political forces favours Johnson, who according to a voter survey published this week by YouGov would obtain 36 per cent of the votes, followed by the opposition Labour Party with 23 per cent, 18 per cent for the Liberal Democrats and 12 per cent for the Brexit Party.
With the country at an unprecedented political crossroads, the election campaign is expected to be hotly contested and complicated.
The Brexit Party threatens to take support away from the conservatives with the message that two consecutive Tory prime ministers have been unable, to date, to carry out the will of the people expressed in a June 2016 referendum in which 51.9 per cent of British voters opted for Brexit.
Johnson had repeatedly said he would deliver Brexit by the end of the month, but lawmakers passed an amendment forcing him to send a letter to Brussels requesting a three-month extension on October 19.