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MPs vote to hold general election in the UK on 12 December

With Brexit still on the horizon, the British public will go to the polls.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Oct 29th 2019, 9:10 PM

MPS IN THE House of Commons have voted to hold a general election.

The British public will go the polls on Thursday 12 December.

A late amendment from Labour had sought to change the date to Monday 9 December but that failed by 315 votes to 295.

In the end, MPs voted for an election by 438 votes to 20. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking to regain the Conservative majority in the Commons that was lost after an election called by his predecessor Theresa May in 2017.

He had previously said he’d rather be “dead in a ditch” than the UK not leave the EU on 31 October.

Johnson secured a last-ditch deal with the EU that involved compromise on the Northern Irish backstop, but this deal was defeated by MPs in the Commons. 

Legislation passed by the opposition with the help of rebel Tories forced Johnson to seek an extension in lieu of a deal passing through parliament.

The EU has formally accepted this request for an extension and the new date set for Brexit is 31 January 2020.

How that will proceed will depend greatly on who’s in government by then and who – if anyone – has a majority. 

If Johnson wins a majority, he’ll seek to push through his Brexit deal and should be successful in doing so.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have repeatedly said they would seek a second public vote on Brexit with the latter party totally opposed to the UK leaving the EU. 

If one or both of these parties win power, then Brexit may be cast in doubt altogether.

Reaction

With the election now on the horizon, Johnson told reporters this evening that it’s time for the country to “come together to get Brexit done”. 

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has called the election a “once-in-a-generation” chance to “transform” the country. He also doesn’t mention Brexit in his statement.

“We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change that our country has ever seen,” he said.

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said the election is the “best chance to elect a government to stop Brexit”. 

She added: “This country deserves better than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.”

Also reacting to the news early, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the election would be an opportunity to defend the interests of people, businesses and communities in the North.

He said: “This island’s destiny is being decided at Westminster. Like it or not, the only way to prevent the kind of outcome that would devastate our communities is to show up and vote it down… Bring it on.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster said that it’s right that people “have their say through the ballot box” and added that her party have a “record of speaking up for Northern Ireland in Westminster.

“Unionists need their strongest team returned to so that Northern Ireland’s interests are protected in the next parliament,” she said. “That team is the DUP.”

The December vote will be the first time since Britons have gone to the polls in a general election in that month since 1923, the second such election to not include MPs across most of the island of Ireland following the creation of the Irish Free State. 

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Sean Murray

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