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Boris Johnson will ask MPs to back 12 December election if EU agrees to Brexit extension

This comes as the EU is expected to formally announce its decision on an extension tomorrow.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Boris Johnson has announced he will push for a general election on 12 December if the EU, as expected, grants an extension to the Brexit process.

He said this evening he wanted “to be reasonable with parliament” and that they could have more time to scrutinise the Brexit legislation if they submitted to a December general election.

It comes amid signs the EU is set to grant a fresh Brexit delay until the end of January after Johnson was forced – under the terms of the so-called Benn Act – to request a further extension at the weekend.

The Prime Minister told the BBC: “I’m afraid it looks as though our EU friends are going to respond to Parliament’s request by having an extension, which I really don’t want at all.

“So, the way to get this done, the way to get Brexit done, is, I think, to be reasonable with Parliament and say if they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal they can have it but they have to agree to a general election on December 12.”

In a letter to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn this evening, Johnson wrote: “If the EU offers the delay that Parliament has requested – that is, we must stay in until 31 January – then it is clear that there must be an election. We cannot risk further paralysis. 

In these circumstances, the Commons will vote next week on whether to hold an election to be hold on 12 December. 

“This would mean that Parliament would dissolve just after midnight on 6 November.”

Johnson added if Parliament refuses to “take this chance and fails to ratify by the end of 6 November, as I fear it will, then the issue will have to be resolved by a new Parliament”. 

The Prime Minister claimed an election on 12 December “will allow a new Parliament and government to be in place by Christmas”. 

Johnson doesn’t have unilateral power to call an election, as he needs the support of two-thirds of the House of Commons, or at least 434 MPs. This is a requirement set out under the UK’s Fixed-Term Parliaments Act.

There would also need to be 25 working days between the dissolution of parliament following such a vote, and polling day, which is usually held on a Thursday.

In his letter to Corbyn, Johnson said that if he wins a majority in the election, government will “ratify the great new deal” that he has negotiated, “get Brexit done in January and the country will move on”. 

“It is time for MPs finally to take responsibility. More people voted leave in 2016 than have ever voted for anything. Parliament promised to respect the referendum result. But Parliament has repeatedly avoided doing this,” Johnson said. 

Give this situation, we must give the voters the chance to resolve this situation as soon as reasonably possible before the next deadline of 31 January.
We cannot risk wasting the next three months then this farce being replayed with yet another delay in January 2020 and still no way for the country to move on. 

Since becoming Prime Minister, Johnson has already tried to call a general election, and although he won a majority, he failed to get the required two-thirds support.

This evening, MPs voted to pass the Queen’s Speech, which is Boris Johnson’s legislative agenda, by 310 votes to 298 – a majority of 16.

- With reporting by Hayley Halpin and Gráinne Ní Aodha

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