UK lawmakers agree to hold Dec. 12 election in bid to resolve Brexit paralysis
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks in the House of Commons, London, after judges at the Supreme Court ruled that his advice to the Queen to suspend Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.
House of Commons – PA Images | PA Images | Getty Images
The United Kingdom is to hold a December general election for the first time since 1923 in a bid to break the Brexit impasse.
On Tuesday evening, lawmakers from parties across the U.K. Parliament voted by 438 to 20 to hold a nationwide poll on December 12. Amendments to the bill, including an alternative Dec. 9 election date and a lowering of the voting age to 16, were earlier rejected.
The bill will now go to the House of Lords — Parliament’s upper house — for further debate on Wednesday, although this is unlikely to derail the decision made by MPs (Members of Parliament) in the lower chamber.
It was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s fourth attempt to secure an early general election. The last national vote in 2017 ended in a “hung Parliament,” making it difficult for the government pass legislation. The ruling Conservatives will this time hope to gain a clear majority, allowing them to push through their Brexit plans.
Polls currently suggest that Johnson’s government could be well placed to improve their situation in an election. However, opposition parties all feel they can improve on their 2017 tally.
Apparently undaunted by current polling numbers, the leader of the main opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, said earlier Tuesday that he was determined to canvass support.
“I can’t wait to get out there on the streets. In every town and village in this country, Labour will be there, giving a message of real hope where this government offers nothing,” he said.
The Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats — the third and fourth largest parties respectively — are expected to improve their seat allocation and may be able to act as a “kingmaker” when final results come in.
A winter election
A U.K. general election hasn’t been held in December since 1923, and there is some concern that a cold, dark U.K. winter could affect turnout.
John Curtice, a professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, said to the BBC Tuesday that he felt this concern was unfounded given that “so many voters feel so strongly on both sides of the argument.”
In the present make-up of Parliament, no party has a clear majority. This situation has led to an inability for the government to pass legislation related to Brexit, or for that matter any other issues.