Boris Johnson knew his position was untenable as he did not have a working majority in the House of Commons and had suffered defeat after defeat on votes and motions.

By Ian Horswill

Posted on October 30, 2019

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, at the fourth time of asking, finally got his way with the House of Commons overwhelmingly agreeing to a bill for a general election on Thursday, 12 December. It comes after the main opposition party Labour maddeningly rejected the previous attempts.

The bill will become law once it is approved by the unelected House of Lords, which does not have the power to overrule the elected House of Commons, BBC News reported.

“I think it’s time for the country to come together, get Brexit done and go forward,” Boris Johnson said.

“It’ll be a tough election and we are going to do the best we can.”

The 25 October opinion poll from Opinium puts Johnson’s Conservative Party 16 points clear of the Labour Party, which would give Boris Johnson a healthy majority with 40% of the vote compared to 24%. Support for the Conservative Party has grown steadily since Johnson became prime minister in July.

The margin is similar to that enjoyed by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May when she called a snap election “to try to ensure Brexit was carried out” and found her majority had been reduced when the votes were counted.

Johnson knew his position was untenable as he did not have a working majority in the House of Commons and had suffered defeat after defeat on votes and motions.

One vote he won after achieving the impossible, a new agreement to leave with European Union, was still likely to face lengthy delays with amendments proposed by the Labour Party.

The European Union has extended the UK’s deadline to withdraw from the European Union – the bloc of 28 countries – until January 31 or earlier if the Withdrawal Agreement Act is endorsed by the UK Parliament and the European Union.

Jeremy Corbyn general election
Main opposition party, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, has a divided party and will need to win the general election to remain as leader. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Johnson, a born campaigner, will have his work cut out to achieve the majority he strives for and to ensure the madness is over. If he loses, he will be the shortest serving UK Prime Minister in history.

The decision to call a general election – the fourth since 2015 and the UK’s first December general election since 1923 – may anger weary voters.

Johnson also faces condemnation for failing to fulfil his promise to leave the European Union on 31 October.

Brexit is going to dominate electioneering as Johnson demands the power to get the Withdrawal Agreement Bill passed and for the UK to finally leave the European Union. The majority of the UK population voted to leave the European Union in a national referendum in June 2016.

The major opposition party Labour appears deeply divided. After leader Jeremy Corbyn pledged support for the 12 December bill, 100 of his MPs abstained from voting. Labour pledges to renegotiate Johnson’s Brexit deal and set up another referendum.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which advocates a no-deal split, and the resurgent Liberal Democrats, who want to cancel Brexit altogether, may gain votes.

Johnson had to try and break the madness but there is no certainty a divided population will let him. His electioneering will be a true test of his political nous.