Boris Johnson asks MPs to vote on December snap general election

Joe Gamp
Contributor, Yahoo News UK

Boris Johnson gave MPs an ultimatum on Thursday when he announced he was seeking a December 12 snap general election.

The prime minister said that in return for backing an election plan when they vote on Monday, he will offer MPs more time to debate and scrutinise his Brexit deal.

It comes as Brussels looks set to grant a fresh Brexit delay until the end of January after Mr Johnson was forced – under the terms of the so-called Benn Act – to request a further extension.

Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs there would be a vote on a motion for an early general election on Monday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London on Thursday. (PA)

His opposition counterpart, Valerie Vaz, said Labour would back an election once no-deal is ruled out and “if the extension allows”.

The Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru also refused to give their backing to the plan.

If MPs vote for a December 12 general election, it would be the first time in nearly 100 years that the country goes to polls so close to Christmas.

The last December election took place in 1923 when Conservative Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons this week. (PA)

In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Mr Johnson said: “The way to get Brexit done is 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 12 December.”

The PM has also written to Jeremy Corbyn demanding an election.

On Thursday afternoon, Mr Johnson tweeted the letter he sent to the Labour leader.

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He wrote in the tweet: “I have written to Jeremy Corbyn: this Parliament must get Brexit done now or a NEW Parliament must get Brexit done so the country can move on.”

Labour MP Ian Lucas said he opposed the call for a snap election and said it was “not in the national interest”.

He tweeted: “What makes sense now is to discuss the Withdrawal Bill in a 3 month extension period, have the various votes and make the decisions.

“To have a general election now is not in the national interest.”

A timeline showing key Brexit dates (PA GRAPHICS)

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, Mr Johnson needs a two-thirds majority in the Commons to secure a poll.

A DUP spokesperson said the party’s 10 MPs will back Mr Johnson’s plan.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford rejected the call and said his party will not "dance to Boris Johnson’s tune on election".

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon branded the prime minister a “charlatan”.

She tweeted: “So Johnson appears to be saying to MPs ‘if you vote for an election, I’ll bring back my bad Brexit bill and try to drag us out of the EU before we go to the polls. Elections should be exercises in letting voters decide, not devices for charlatans to get their own way.’

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson said the party won't “bail out” Mr Johnson.

Downing Street reportedly wanted an election in late November, but by law Parliament has to be dissolved 25 working days before an election which means for it to happen before the end of November, it would need to be triggered this week.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson’s legislative agenda, introduced by the Queen’s Speech, has passed by 310 votes to 294.

First December general election in nearly a century?

If MPs vote to hold a general election on December 12, it would be the first time in nearly 100 years that the country has gone to the polls so close to Christmas.

The last December general election took place in 1923.

The prime minister on that occasion was the Conservative Stanley Baldwin.

Like Boris Johnson, Baldwin had been in office only a matter of months when he decided to call an election.

Unlike Mr Johnson, Baldwin already had a comfortable majority in the House of Commons.

Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in summer 1923, months before the last December general election. (PA)

Baldwin’s decision to go to the polls was for personal as well as political reasons.

He had recently become convinced of the need to introduce tariffs, in order – as he saw it – to protect British industry against foreign competition.

His government had previously pledged not to introduce tariffs, however.

Baldwin saw it as only proper to ask the country to endorse his change of mind, and as such called a snap general election.

But his gamble backfired and when the country voted on December 6 1923, the result was a hung parliament and ultimately a Labour minority government.

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