Britain will hold its first December election in almost a century after Prime Minister Boris Johnson finally won parliamentary approval for a gamble on a snap ballot that he hopes will break the deadlock over Brexit.
Just two days before the third Brexit deadline of Oct. 31 will be missed despite Johnson’s “do or die” promise to deliver on the divorce on that date, his bid to hold an election before the end of this year was approved by 438 to 20 votes in the House of Commons.
The first Christmas-season election in Britain since 1923 will be hard to call.
Brexit has variously fatigued and enraged swathes of voters while eroding traditional loyalties to the two major parties, Johnson’s Conservatives and Labour.
“It’s time to unite the country and get Brexit done,” Johnson told a meeting of Conservative lawmakers late on Tuesday shortly after securing an election to cheers from a parliament he said had stopped him delivering Brexit.
Johnson, 55, hopes to win a majority to push through the last-minute Brexit deal he struck this month with the European Union while his main opponent, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is pitching a radical socialist government and another EU referendum.
The election result will be announced on Friday Dec. 13. If no party wins conclusively, the future of Brexit will be thrown up in the air again with options ranging from a tumultuous no-deal exit to another referendum that could scupper the whole divorce.
Corbyn cast the election as a chance for real change. He frames Labour as a socialist alternative to the inequality and close relations with U.S. President Donald Trump that he says characterise Johnson’s premiership.