Britain’s members of Parliament have voted for the nation to have a snap general election, its third in less than five years, on December 12th.
The vote on Tuesday night was the fourth opportunity put before Parliament to approve a snap election, but others had been defeated or withdrawn amid refusals to face the electorate by the opposition and wrecking amendments.
After the government won a vote to have the election on December 12th, not the 9th as preferred by the opposition, MPs voted 438-20 in favour of having a general election. Amusingly, the choice of date now means the leaders of Britain’s political parties will learn their fates on Friday 13th — another inauspicious date to follow the failed Halloween Brexit of October 31st.
At last the deadlock in parliament is broken, Brexit now has a chance to succeed.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) October 29, 2019
The bill will now go to the House of Lords, the revising chamber, where it will be reviewed before becoming law, firing the starting gun on the winter 2019 general election campaign.
Assuming there are no further roadblocks preventing the bill from passing, Britain will have its first December general election since 1923 and the first winter election since the 1970s. The winter is generally avoided for elections as bad weather can discourage voters from going to the polls, and makes the business of campaigning — which often involves sustained periods outside, knocking on doors canvassing.
Despite the theoretical power the House of Lords enjoys, it is broadly unlikely they will prevent the election from going ahead.
The Prime Minister met with Conservative Members of Parliament immediately after the vote Tuesday night, delivering a pep-talk to prepare them for the coming General Election campaign before returning to his official residence, 10 Downing Street.
Why does this election matter?
While Brexit remains the defining political issue for the United Kingdom, one of the key issues that have informed progress — or a lack thereof — over the almost three and a half years since the 2o16 referendum is the composition of Parliament.
With the majority of members in the present house being dead set against a full, clean-break Brexit and many opposing even a Brexit with a withdrawal agreement, parliament has consistently voted against Brexit in recent years. The issue has become so pronounced with the composition of the parties, informed by defections and expulsions in recent months, the government has become basically unable to govern.
Under normal conditions, this situation where the official government is constantly defeated in the chamber while the opposition is able to pass legislation would have led to a general election almost immediately — a balance in the constitution against dead governments. Yet the passage of a new law passed by the David Cameron government to appease then Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg neutered this, formalising for the first time that elections should be exactly five years apart and requiring a Parliamentary supermajority to call one early.
This stipulation gave the rough coalition of opposition, anti-Brexit parties the upper hand in Parliament because an early election relied on the support of the opposition, rather than being merely a decision for the Prime Minister.
While a normal opposition leader would leap at the chance of an election to put their policy platforms to the people and take control of the country, Jeremy Corbyn became the first in British history to refuse that chance, leading to accusations that he was running scared from the British people who, it is claimed, he knew would not put him into office.
This left the United Kingdom in a peculiar situation where it had a government unable to govern, a shadow government frustrating Brexit from the opposition benches, and no opportunity to address the balance by voting in a new parliament that might better represent the views of the British people.
What happens now?
While Boris Johnson will hope to win a decisive victory and hence control Parliament to pass his Brexit deal, the possibility remains that the British people will not respond well to his vision and deliver another hung Parliament, with no party claiming overall control.
Previous polling has highlighted the danger the to Prime Minister’s electoral prospects at having failed to deliver Brexit — as he repeatedly promised — by October 31st. In Early October a Comres poll suggested that if Boris managed to deliver any Brexit — deal or no deal — by the end of the month, he could expect a decisive election victory afterwards. But if he delayed Brexit, if even slightly, the result would be inconclusive, with another hung parliament.
These results are by no means certain, however. Polling remains an imprecise art, with pundits and pollsters having misjudged the 2015 and 2017 general elections, and the 2016 Brexit referendum.
One route out of an electoral defeat remains open to Mr Johnson — an accommodation or alliance with Nigel Farage’s Brexit party. Reckoning that due to old animosities and party loyalties the Conservatives have no chance taking Brexit-voting Labour-held seats in the midlands, north, and Wales, Mr Farage offered an alliance to Boris Johnson where the two parties would not fight each other in seats where one or the other stood a good chance of winning against anti-Brexit candidates.
The pact would have the impact of not splitting the pro-Brexit vote between two parties and potentially allowing an anti-Brexit party to slip through, but will likely be seen as unacceptable to Tory strategists. The party considers itself a national force and contests every seat in every election in Great Britain regardless of the chances of success — to be the first Tory leader to concede particular areas to a competitor party would be a significant blow to the notoriously proud Boris Johnson’s standing and legacy.
In earlier developments:
Members voted on a date:
Opposition parties including Labour and the Liberal Democrats had called for the election, should it take place, to take place on December 9th rather than the 12th as proposed by the government. As Breitbart London reported earlier in the day, this was for a number of reasons including, it is claimed, to help the turnout of students in university towns on election day.
Because the election is so close to Christmas, it was thought the commencement of the seasonal holiday for students would mean many students would have already gone home, and consequently might be less likely to vote.
As it happened, Parliament voted against the date change 315 to 295 — a rare victory for the government.
Ten Tory rebels reinstated
An early attempt at a show of strength from Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to expel 21 members of parliament from the party who had voted against the government on key Brexit votes. This move was bitterly criticised in the mainstream media as it saw some favourite figures including the bitterly anti-Brexit campaigners Ken Clarke and Philip Hammond.
Now ten of those expelled have had the Tory whip restored, with Alistair Burt, Caroline Nokes, Greg Clark, Sir Nicholas Soames, Ed Vaizey, Margot James, Richard Benyon, Stephen Hammond, Steve Brine, and Richard Harrington. Why these members, in particular, have been welcomed back and not others is not presently clear
Richard Benyon, for instance, has already confirmed he will not be contesting the next election. On the other hand, Amber Rudd has subsequently voted with the government but has not been welcomed back yet.
This story is developing and more follows