Boris Johnson has won his bid for an early general election to “get Brexit done” with MPs voting emphatically for a December poll.
The prime minister’s victory comes less than 24 hours after MPs voted against having a general election on December 12 – the first Christmas vote since 1923 and first winter election since February 1974.
The Commons overwhelmingly approved the Early Parliamentary General Election Bill on Tuesday evening with a 418 majority – 438 for ‘yes’, 20 for ‘no’ – with all three main opposite parties voting with the government.
‘Once in a generation election’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that with no-deal “off the table” it was time for a general election.
In a statement he said: “This election is a once in a generation chance to transform our country and take on the vested interests holding the people back. The choices at this election could not be clearer.”
Corbyn continued: “A Labour government will be on your side while Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, who think they are born to rule, will only look after the privileged few.”
‘Radical campaign for change’
He ended: “We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen. This is our chance to build a country for the many not the few and fit for the next generation.”
The absence of any mention of Brexit signals a re-running of Labour’s 2017 election campaign, most specifically in the sloganeering use of “for the many not the few” and the ‘vested Tory-born to rule interests’ trope.
Snap election wipeout
Both were themes exploited by Labour in the snap general election called by Theresa May in 2017 that wiped out her majority and required her to deal with the DUP.
May had a 20 point lead going into that election yet Labour confounded political pundits and commentators by winning 30 seats and taking 40% of the vote.
Clearly Corbyn is hoping for a similar – but better – outcome this December but still has to balance the many leave-voting-constituencies with Labour’s remain supporters.
The Conservatives currently have a 13% lead in the polls.
‘Stop Brexit’ – vote Lib Dem
One party not afraid to mention Brexit will be the Liberal Democrats for whom the election will be all about the UK’s future with the EU.
Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, told Sky News the “first thing we’ll do is stop Brexit…and then we will move on to tackle the challenges we face.”
The self described “candidate for prime minister” said these were tackling climate change, mental health issues and public services, but clearly the election is about Brexit for the Lib Dems.
“The public have a chance to choose what future they want,” said Swinson, which meant voting for the Tories or Labour was “a bad Brexit”.
“We have secured an extension to article 50 and that has stopped our exit this Thursday,” said Swinson, adding: “The public have to have a chance to choose.”
Get Brexit done
Johnson said it was time for the country to “come together to get Brexit done”, having earlier restored ten of the 21 Tory MPs that he’d had stripped of the whip for their stance on Brexit .
Tomorrow, the order of business for the Commons includes a general debate on the Grenfell Tower report release, the Northern Ireland budget Bill and PMQs.
There will be a five week election campaign – and another Queen’s Speech in the New Year.