Britain is heading for a December general election after Labour announced on Tuesday it would back Boris Johnson’s move to bring the country’s Brexit crisis to a head.
After a meeting of the shadow cabinet Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, declared that his conditions for an early election had now been met and that he was satisfied that a “no-deal” Brexit had been taken off the table.
Mr Johnson’s decision to hold a pre-Christmas election before he has delivered Brexit is a huge political gamble, which gives Remain voters a final chance to stop Britain leaving the EU.
If Mr Johnson wins the election, he says he will deliver the Brexit deal he agreed in Brussels this week, but it is far from clear that he will secure the convincing House of Commons majority he needs to push through his plan.
Labour and the Scottish National party are promising a second EU referendum that could see Brexit reversed, while the Liberal Democrats say they would revoke the Article 50 exit process if they won a majority.
Although Mr Johnson is still haggling with opposition parties over the precise date of the election — it is expected to happen between December 9 and December 12 — Labour’s backing means it is now almost certain to happen.
Mr Corbyn had dragged his feet over supporting an early vote — many Labour MPs fear the party could be heading for a drubbing — but ultimately he concluded that he could no longer resist growing political pressure for a poll.
The Labour leader said: “We have now heard from the EU that the extension of Article 50 to January 31 has been confirmed, so for the next three months, our condition of taking no deal off the table has now been met.
“We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen.”
Mr Johnson is bringing forward legislation for an early election on Tuesday and is now confident of winning cross-party support. He has promised that he will not try to reintroduce his Brexit deal to parliament before an election.
Britain has not had a December election for almost 100 years but the prime minister argues a poll is vital to stop the Brexit “paralysis” at Westminster and to finally put an end to what he calls a “zombie” parliament.
His gamble to hold a pre-Brexit election is a big one because of the highly volatile nature of British politics, even given the Conservative party’s consistent double-digit lead in most opinion polls.
Theresa May, former prime minister, held an election in 2017 to try to secure a big Commons majority to deliver Brexit, only to see her majority evaporate. Like Mr Johnson, she entered the election with a big opinion poll lead.