LONDON – Britain will hold a general election on Dec. 12 as part of an effort to break a deadlock in Parliament over its exit from the European Union.
It will be the country’s third vote in five years and comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson has struggled to deliver Brexit despite repeated vows to do so.
Momentum for a rare December election was boosted after the leader of the opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn told fellow lawmakers Tuesday that he would back the British leader’s call for the snap vote now that the prospect of crashing out of the EU without a Brexit deal has been effectively temporarily ruled out.
Corbyn said his conditions for a vote had “now been met” after the EU extended Britain’s Brexit deadline to Jan. 31 next year. Johnson formally accepted the terms of the delay late Monday. The nation had been due to exit the bloc Thursday.
Britain’s leader was previously thwarted three times in his attempt to force a new election, widely viewed as a proxy vote on Britain’s ties with the EU.
It will be the first British election in the month of December in around 100 years.
Parliamentarians backed the vote by 438 to 20.
Most polls show Johnson is likely to win the national vote comfortably.
Although British polls have been wrong before.
If Johnson does win, it will be easier for him to secure his Brexit priorities.
The motion approved Tuesday still needs to get through the House of Lords.
However, it is not expected to face significant resistance there.
“We’re now going to be out on the streets for about six weeks and I’ve just had a weather forecast, and it’s going to be good weather,” Corbyn told cheering supporters in London after dropping his party’s opposition to a pre-Christmas election.
Johnson proposed the election after he was legally forced against his will to ask the EU for a Brexit extension. He took office in July vowing to “get Brexit done” by Oct. 31.
He even said he’d rather be “death in a ditch” than see Britain in the EU on Halloween.
Like his predecessor, Theresa May, who resigned over Brexit, Johnson was able to negotiate a Brexit withdrawal deal with EU leaders, but British lawmakers blocked the deal’s implementation over concerns it wasn’t adequately scrutinized.
British and EU legislators were also worried that it could inadvertently lead to a “no-deal” Brexit, which would damage the economies of both Britain and the EU.
The EU on Monday agreed to extend the Brexit deadline for the third time in the three-and-half years since Britain narrowly opted to leave the bloc after a referendum.
To win support from opposition parties for the vote, Johnson agreed to temporarily shelve his EU withdrawal agreement until after the election.
“There is only one way to get Brexit done in the face of this unrelenting parliamentary obstructionism, this endless, willful, fingers crossed, ‘not me guv’ refusal to deliver on the mandate of the people – and that is to refresh this Parliament and give the people a choice,” Johnson told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, which sets the EU’s political direction and priorities, said in a message to his “British friends” posted on Twitter on Tuesday that the extension “may be the last one. Please make the best use of this time.”
The officials results of Britain’s vote will be unveiled on Dec. 13, a Friday.
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