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UK Elections - 19 December 2019

Since 2010, the prime minister lost the unilateral power to call an election before the full five-year parliamentary term is up. An early election requires either a favorable vote of two-thirds of the House of Commons, or else a 14-day period in which no one is able to form a government commanding the confidence of the House.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 24 October 2019 called for a general election on Dec. 12 to break Britain’s Brexit impasse, a goal the leader has sought but so far failed to push through parliament. Johnson said in a letter to opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn he would hand parliament more time to approve his Brexit deal but that lawmakers must back a December election, Johnson’s third attempt to try to force a snap poll.

Just a week before Britain was due to leave the European Union, the bloc looked set to grant Johnson a Brexit delay, something he has repeatedly said he does not want but was forced to request by the country’s divided parliament. An election is seen by his team as the only way of breaking the deadlock over Brexit after parliament voted in favour of his deal, but then, just minutes later, rejected his preferred timetable which would have met his Oct. 31 deadline.

But he has twice failed before to win the votes in parliament for an election, where he needs the support of two-thirds of its 650 lawmakers. The main opposition Labour Party has repeatedly said it will only back an election when it is sure that he cannot lead Britain out of the EU without a deal.

Boris Johnson seemingly decided to become Prime Ministe when he was a little boy. Then he got what he wished for. Johnson's honeymoon didn't last long. Prime Minister Boris Johnson quickly suffered major defeats in his plans to take the UK out of the EU with or without a deal. BREXIT had consumed and destroyed the premierships of his two predecessors, and wasted no time in working to destroy his.

He soon led a government with no parliamentary majority. Tuesday (3 September) 2019 was one of the most dramatic days in British parliamentary history. The new prime minister met the House of Commons, and witnessed his parliamentary majority of one seat wiped out as Conservative MP Philip Lee crossed the aisle to the Liberal Democrats. Possibly this started the 14 day no-confidence countdown. A vote of no confidence in the Johnson government, which would lead in turn either to the formation of an alternative temporary government or an election after a 14-day delay.

Johnson's attempt to call a snap election failed to garner the support of two-thirds of lawmakers in the House of Commons on Wednesday — leaving the Brexit process in limbo. It was his third defeat in the lower house of Parliament in just two days — coming right after opposition MPs and rebels in Johnson's Conservatives approved a bill that could force Johnson to ask the European Union for another Brexit delay, a step he has repeatedly said he will not take. Johnson lost his majority after expelling rebel Tory MPs, with time running out before the UK is due to leave the EU on October 31.

Boris Johnson threatened to 'have the whip removed' and deselect [ceasing to be a member of the Conservative Party's Approved Candidates List] the twenty one Tory MPs who condemned the PM to first Commons defeat 03 September 2019. These rebels included Tory grandee and Big Beasts such as eight ex-cabinet ministers as well as Winston Churchill's grandson Sir Nicholas Soames. Another rebel was Ken Clarke, the Europhile of Europhiles, a Tory Big Beast, former Chancellor and, at 79, the longest standing MP or 'Father of the House of Commons'. The rebels voted for a motion backed by Jeremy Corbyn and opposition parties designed to wrest control of the Commons agenda from the Government today. The Government lost by 328 to 301. One of those who voted against the government was Conservative Phillip Lee who dramatically crossed the floor of the Commons to join the Lib Dems while Boris Johnson was speaking - and effectively wiping out his majority before the vote even took place.

The House of Lords agreed that all stages of the legislation would be completed by Friday at 5 p.m. That would give the House of Commons enough time to debate any amendments made by the upper house and send the legislation — if it passes again — to Queen Elizabeth II, who could put the law into effect by as soon as Monday. The bill would force Johnson to delay Britain's EU exit until January 31, unless Parliament approves a new deal or votes to support a no-deal Brexit by October 19 — which are both unlikely scenarios.

Any extension would also need the unanimous approval of the leaders of the remaining 27 EU member-states — and the British government would have to provide a valid reason for doing so. Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency, said there wasn't enough widespread support among EU leaders to grant a third extension.

Johnson wanted to hold the election on October 15 — just a few days before an EU leaders summit in Brussels from October 17 to 18. Opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said he supports early elections, but only once the no-deal Brexit blocking bill has been passed. The Labour leader also reportedly said that he wouldn't want to hold the election before the current Brexit deadline on October 31.

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A prospective election would offer three likely alternatives: a Brexiteer government under Johnson; a Labour government led by veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn, who has promised a fresh referendum with staying in the EU as an option; and a minority government of Tories with about 310 votes, or a 'hung' parliament with a coalition of Tories [310 seats], plus "Confidence and supply" from DUP [10 votes] and another half dozen votes magicked up to make a majority of 326.

A study by Focal Data released 02 September 2019 found that both the Tories and Labour would lose seats in a snap election and a hung parliament would result. Boris Johnson would lose nearly all his party’s seats in Scotland to a revived SNP. The PM would also see voters in England drift to the Lib Dems. A number of Conservative MPs from the party’s moderate wing – many of whom profess themselves to be One Nation Tories – have either indicated they will not stand again at an election, or are prepared to vote in a way that could see them lose the party whip.

Brtish papers on Thursday 05 September 2019 have gone to great lengths to most vividly portray the unfolding British political theatre, looking under a magnifying glass both at the “zombie” prime minister’s triple Commons crush and “chicken” Jeremy Corbyn “cowardly” backtracking on his earlier claims. “Cornered Johnson suffers triple Commons defeat”, The Guardian wrote adding he was thwarted “three times in the House of Commons”. The outlet noted that the attempt by opposition parties and Tory rebels to block a no-deal Brexit “cleared its second and third readings” proceeding to the latest “defeat” - a failed attempt to call a snap election. “Cornered Johnson suffers triple Commons defeat”, The Guardian wrote adding he was thwarted “three times in the House of Commons”. The outlet noted that the attempt by opposition parties and Tory rebels to block a no-deal Brexit “cleared its second and third readings” proceeding to the latest “defeat” - a failed attempt to call a snap election.

The tabloids - no big fans of Johnson – opted for a more straightforward way of delivering the story: The Mirror, for instance, lambasted the prime minister as “Britain’s worst (since the last one)” with the latter part being illustrated by an inset picture of Theresa May. “The only PM ever to lose his first three Commons votes as MPs vetoed his risky no-deal strategy”, the report states in black and white, while the Metro chose to be more laconic: “He just can’t win”, they put on the newspaper cover, sporting a picture of a raving and storming Johnson.

Nonetheless, a few outlets argued time hadn’t yet come to write Johnson off. Die Welt noted that Johnson’s opponents may not benefit from his current “100% failure rate”. The edition outlined Labour’s hope to cash in on Johnson’s undelivered promise to fulfil Brexit “or die”, which will supposedly deprive him of trust, and hence votes. However, the premier’s opponents, Die Welt noted, “can’t rely on that”. “His election platform will be a brutal anti-EU campaign with a clear no-deal promise. And faced with a devoted right-wing media, growing voter frustration and an opposition that still does not know which Brexit it wants, his prospects for success are very good”, the German daily reported.

Allister Heath wrote 4th Sep 2019 in The Telegraphy: "... 31 years after Margaret Thatcher launched the modern Eurosceptic movement with her Bruges speech, her side has finally triumphed. Following the expulsion of the 21 most committed Remainers, Eurosceptics are in almost full control of the Tory party for the first time since the Fifties... ensuring the period between 1973 and 2019 is remembered as a historical curiosity, an aberrant era during which the UK was conned into giving up its self-government.... The semi-prorogation didn’t “backfire”: it flushed out his hardcore opponents and allowed him to expel them. He knew he would have to do something drastic at some stage and there was no way that those committed to derailing his plans would ever have been allowed to stand under Tory colours at the election.... Remainers still see themselves as members of the natural governing class, with the Brexiteers as insolent interlopers.... to Leave voters, losing anti-Brexit irreconcilables, especially overrated establishment figures, is a huge step in the right direction and proof of Boris’s seriousness."

A general election before the end of the year will not put an end to the Brexit crisis. Contrary to the MPs' hopes, it would create more problems on top of Brexit, as a likely hung parliament would leave the UK without a government for some time. Latest polls show that a hung parliament with the Conservatives being the largest party is the most likely outcome of a general election. However, it would fall short of a majority, and possibly end up with fewer seats. The government would still not have a mandate in parliament, making the time and effort that went into the campaign pointless.

That does not mean a general election would bring much good news to the opposition parties either. The Conservatives are expected to win back most of the seats of the 21 MPs who were expelled for voting against no-deal Brexit. And the three largest opposition parties are not likely to combine for more than the 326 seats required for a majority. Even if they were to form a three-way coalition — unheard of in British politics — they would still need more parties onboard.

The Scottish National Party's whole agenda is to make Scotland independent from the UK, something both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are firmly against. And while the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party are pro-Remain, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has yet to voice his opinion on Brexit. This has raised doubts on whether he would be fit to lead a pro-Remain government. Consequently, Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson has announced she would not support a Corbyn-led government.

When a new UK government is finally formed after six weeks of campaigning and exhausted MPs return from endless rounds of negotiations, they will look around parliament, only to find nothing has changed.

Johnson's administration had wanted to hold an election on December 12, while the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats - smaller opposition parties - had said they would support a December 9 poll. The three-day difference may not seem important, but a slightly earlier election means Johnson will not have time to push through his Brexit legislation before Parliament is dissolved. A compromise date of December 10 or 11 has also been suggested. In yet another curious quirk of British parliamentary tradition, there was no need for a formal division after the Speaker John Bercow nodded the vote through after MPs overwhelmingly shouted their support for the bill.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative party is going into the likely general election campaign with an 11-point lead over Labour, according to the FT’s poll of polls. This poll tracker combines all voting intention surveys published by major British pollsters. But the UK's leading pollster offered a warning to Mr Johnson. John Curtice said he expected a record number of non-Tory or Labour MPs to be returned if the UK does go to the polls in December, thanks to the resurgence of the Liberal Democrats and the likely strong showing of the Scottish National Party.

Labour and the Conservatives must compete for around 540 seats; with no viable coalition partners, the Tories must secure 322 seats for a majority of one. For that to occur, Labour must get no more than 218 seats – far below either its performance in either 2015 or 2017 (232 and 262 seats respectively). Conversely, if Labour can defend its current seats, it would enable an anti-Tory majority to be formed.

The bookies make the Conservatives hot favourites to get most seats (at around the 1-8 mark) and odds-on (5-6) to get a majority. Looking at the polls it’s not hard to see why. The first poll published since the 12th December election date was confirmed gives them a commanding 17-point lead. This is line with a succession of polls (around 60 in total) showing the Tories ahead, and Labour usually languishing in the mid, or low 20s. Tories have been the largest party now in the last three elections. They are also historically the most successful party at winning elections. They’ve formed a government following seven of the last ten general elections. Labour- who have won just three elections since October 1974, were priced at 5-1 to get most seats and 16-1 to get a majority.

Labour was even further behind in the polls when the 2017 general election was called, yet came very close to victory. Back then, to the astonishment of ‘Inside the Tent’ pundits who predicted a rout, Labour recorded its biggest increase in the share of the vote since 1945.

A mid-November 2019 analysis of the latest UK polling data predicted a Conservative and Union Party (aka Tory Party) victory with 39.7% of the overall vote. Electoral Calculus, founded by algorithm and modeling expert Martin Baxter, has published its predictions following a review of opinion polls, "from 01 Nov 2019 to 09 Nov 2019, sampling 8,210 people". Though the analysis makes clear that nothing is set in stone, as was proven by the Labour Party doing better than predicted in the 2017 general election, the current polling data analysis predicts that the Tories will secure 382 seats, compared to 185 seats by Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party, 42 by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), 20 seats by the Liberal Democrats, and 1 seat by the Greens. The Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru was predicted to go down from 4 seats to 2, while the DUP Protestant Nationalist Party from the North of Ireland were predicted to lose one seat bringing them down to 9.

The UK’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis criticised Labour for failing to do enough to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks. The comment came after party leader Jeremy Corbyn announced the launch of a so-called race and faith manifesto, which he claims will combat prejudice and discrimination in British society. Political commentator Keith Rowe said "the Jewish community would be terribly affected, I think we’d see a flight out of the country as quickly as possible from those who could move, and others would be in grave danger, and history tells us that when these things affect the Jews and when people pick on the Jews in this way, it never stops there and they move on to other groups in society."

The exit poll compiled by Ipsos Mori for the BBC, Sky News and ITV suggested the Conservatives were set to secure 368 seats in the 650-member House of Commons, with the main opposition Labour Party on course for 191. Among the smaller parties, the Scottish National Party were predicted to win 55 seats, with the pro-EU Liberal Democrats forecast to win 13. Such a result would mark the Conservative's biggest victory since 1987 and hand Johnson the working majority he needs to take the UK out of the EU by the end of next month, as he has repeatedly pledged to do. It would also signal an historic defeat for Jeremy Corbyn, Johnson's main challenger and leader of the Labour Party.

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