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UK’s prime minister seeks Dec 12 election to break Brexit impasse

Jill Lawless
Associated Press

London – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally abandoned his promise of an October Brexit and pinned his hopes on a December election.

Two days after lawmakers stymied Johnson’s latest attempt to pass his European Union divorce deal, he said Thursday that the only way to break Britain’s Brexit impasse was a general election. Johnson said he would ask lawmakers to vote Monday on a motion calling a national poll for Dec. 12.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, on his way to parliament in London, Thursday Oct. 24, 2019.  In a TV interview Thursday Johnson has announced that he will offer lawmakers more time to scrutinize his Brexit legislation, but only if parliament agree for a General Election on December 12.

To hold an election Johnson must win a vote – by a two-thirds majority – among lawmakers. That looked like a tough task, with the main opposition Labour Party saying it would only back an election once the risk of Britain crashing out of the EU on Oct. 31 – its scheduled departure date – had been removed.

Parliament has already dealt Johnson a series of setbacks and derailed his promise to take Britain out of the EU by the end of the month, “come what may.”

The most recent blow came Tuesday, when lawmakers blocked Johnson’s attempt to fast-track an EU divorce bill through Parliament in a matter of days, saying they needed more time to scrutinize the legislation.

Britain’s next scheduled election is in 2022. To secure an early election, Johnson needs either to win Monday’s vote in Parliament, or lose a no-confidence vote, which so far opposition parties have refused to call.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would wait and see whether the EU agreed to delay Britain’s departure from the bloc. Johnson grudgingly asked for a three-month delay until Jan. 31 on the orders of Britain’s Parliament, which wants to avert the economic damage that could come from a no-deal exit.

“Take no-deal off the table and we absolutely support a general election,” Corbyn said.

He said that “if the EU will answer tomorrow then we’ll know tomorrow.”

Smaller opposition parties said they wanted an election but were wary of doing it on Johnson’s terms.