A December general election is all but certain after Jeremy Corbyn announced he would back a snap poll.
The Labour leader said on Tuesday he would vote for a pre-Christmas poll now a no-deal Brexit on October 31 was “off the table”.
“We’re launching the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen. This is a once in a generation chance to build a country for the many, not the few. It’s time,” Corbyn said.
Johnson will introduce a short bill in the Commons this afternoon to trigger an election. Labour’s shadow cabinet met this morning to decide whether or not to back the move.
There is still wrangling over the exact date of the election. The government wants it to be held on December 12. But the Lib Dems and the SNP have demanded it be held on December 9, arguing more students will still be at university and able to vote on the earlier date.
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A No. 10 source indicated the PM was willing to compromise on the date. The source indicated the government was willing to accept a compromise date of December 11, and would agree to amend the early parliamentary election bill on Tuesday to specify this.
Corbyn told the shadow cabinet this morning: “I have consistently said that we are ready for an election and our support is subject to a no-deal Brexit being off the table.
“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.”
Labour has been divided over whether or not to back an election. Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman said: “Sheer madness to hold a general election in December & on Boris Johnson’s agenda!”
Kevan Jones, the MP for North Durham, said he would not be voting for an early election as the Brexit “impasse” could only be overcome by further debate of Johnson’s Brexit deal.
The PM called for an election after being forced to break his pledge to leave the EU by October 31 because he could not get his Brexit deal through the Commons in time.
On Monday night, he was denied the two-thirds Commons majority he needed for a snap election in a vote on a fixed term parliaments act (FTPA) motion.
But Johnson responded by backing a Lib Dem/SNP plan for legislation to get around the FTPA, meaning only a simple majority of MPs was required to trigger an election.
The PM also promised to drop his Brexit deal, almost guaranteeing SNP and Lib Dem support and forcing Labour into backing the early parliamentary election bill or face being dragged into an election against its will.
It effectively pitches the first winter election in decades as a battle for Brexit.