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How does Johnson hope to get a general election and will Labour back it?

Amid the Brexit deadlock, the Prime Minister has issued another call for a vote.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Hollie Adams/PA)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Hollie Adams/PA)

By Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent

Boris Johnson has announced his third attempt at getting an early general election in order to change the make-up of Parliament.

The Prime Minister has asked MPs to back a motion for one to be held on December 12, with the sweetener of offering them more time to scrutinise his Brexit deal.

Here the PA news agency answers the key questions surrounding the bid.

– How will the PM try to get a general election?

The next time the public are set to go to the polls in a national vote is 2022, but the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act provides one route to an early election.

The Government will use this law on Monday but the bid will only be successful with the backing of a “super majority” of two-thirds of MPs.

That means he would need the support of some Labour MPs.

– Will the opposition back his call?

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party will only back an election when a no-deal Brexit is “taken off the table”.

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Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn wants no-deal taken off the table (Danny Lawson/PA)

What that means exactly, he did not make clear, but he did suggest it is dependent on what kind of extension is granted by the EU.

Mr Johnson was compelled to ask for one until the end of January, which he said was the “likely” outcome, but did say a short delay is still possible.

The Liberal Democrats, SNP and Plaid Cymru refused to give their backing for the election.

– Why this date?

If approved by MPs, it would be the first December general election since 1923.

Under the offer, members could debate and vote on the agreement up until the end of November 6 when Parliament would be dissolved for the campaign to get under way.

The law states that there must be 25 working days between its dissolution and the polling date.

This takes us neatly up to December 12.

– How are the polls looking?

It is not looking good for Labour, and that may explain to some extent why Mr Corbyn is not leaping at the chance to seize power.

Recent YouGov polling of voting intention put the Tories on 37% while Labour trailed on 22%. The Lib Dems were on 19%.

But this still represents a huge risk for Mr Johnson, as his predecessor Theresa May found out.

Labour saw a campaign bounce and, while the party did not win, it did remove her majority and with it much of her power.

– And what if the PM fails?

If he fails to get an election, Mr Johnson would essentially be a captive PM, unable to progress his deal and forced to abide by the extension granted by the EU.

In a threat interpreted as the Government effectively going on strike if it loses, a spokesman for the PM said: “Nothing will come before Parliament but the bare minimum.

“We will pursue a general election every day from then onwards and do everything we can to get it.”

And, according to a Number 10 source, that would include the Withdrawal Agreement Bill being pulled in that scenario.

That is the legislation that would enact the PM’s Brexit deal, which saw the initial backing of the Commons on Tuesday.

PA

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