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Boris Johnson will try again today to get MPs to back an early December election

Johnson failed in his bid last night to get enough MPs to trigger a poll in December.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson will try again today to get MPs to support an election,
UK prime minister Boris Johnson will try again today to get MPs to support an election,
Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire/PA Images

BORIS JOHNSON WILL ask MPs to support his bid for a pre-Christmas election in order to break the Brexit deadlock, after he failed last night to get two-thirds of the House of Commons to back his call for a snap poll. 

UK prime minister Johnson has put his deal on hold in an anticipated bid to convince the Commons to vote today for a 12 December election. This will be his fourth attempt to get an election. 

He may again be defeated with the date proving controversial for the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, who have signalled support for an election being held three days earlier.

Johnson failed yesterday evening to get the two-thirds majority needed to secure an election under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, but was planning on a fresh attempt a day later.

The anticipated short bill setting aside the Fixed-Term Parliament Act would instead require the support of a simple majority of MPs and is expected to be hurried through all Commons stages in a single day.

One reason the Lib Dems and the SNP favoured going to the public on 9 December is because they believe it would prevent the Withdrawal Agreement Bill being passed.

But Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg attempted to win them over by confirming that the bill to implement the Johnson’s new deal would not be brought back before MPs.

The government fell 135 votes short of the 434 required to get an election under the Fixed-Term Parliament Act on Monday.

EU leaders had earlier confirmed they would extend the UK’s withdrawal date to 31 January, in line with the request the prime minister was forced to make under the terms of the Benn Act.

With no overall Commons majority, Johnson needs the votes of some opposition MPs to get an early general election even under the new measure.

Jeremy Corbyn said Labour – which abstained on last night’s vote – would want to scrutinise whatever the government put forward.

Fears remain that a no-deal could be forced through and there are concerns a December election could put off voters, particularly students. 

With Labour MPs fiercely opposed to an election, shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald indicated they were unlikely to change their position to back the government.

“I think it’s very unwise to be having a general election in the run-up to Christmas,” he told Sky News.

While the Lib Dems did not rule out backing the government, party leader Jo Swinson indicated that they would not accept the proposed 12 December election day.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said they would need a “cast-iron guarantee” that Johnson would not try to bring back his deal to Parliament.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said opposition MPs would have the ability to table amendments to the bill on Tuesday.

Government sources had suggested the proposed Lib Dem-SNP timetable – which would mean Parliament would have to be dissolved at one minute past midnight on Friday morning – was too tight to deliver.

Rees-Mogg told the Commons that ministers “will not bring back” the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which was put on hold last week after Johnson failed in his attempt to fast-track it through parliament in just three days.

With reporting from Dominic McGrath

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