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Boris Johnson to make fourth bid to get Dec 12 snap poll through

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Press Trust of India London
Embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a fourth bid to force an early snap poll on December 12 by tabling another bill in Parliament on Tuesday, a day after a similar attempt was rejected by MPs following the European Union's further extension to the Brexit deadline until January 31.
With his "do or die" pledge to leave the European Union (EU) by the October 31 deadline now dead, Johnson has set his hopes for getting his snap poll bill through the Commons threshold.
After three failed attempts, his chances seem slightly higher this time as he requires only a simple majority of MPs to back him, as opposed to the two-thirds majority under the UK Fixed Term Parliaments Act.
Besides this attempt at circumventing the law, he has also offered the Opposition parties a commitment to abandon his Brexit Bill from being brought back for a vote, opening up the prospect of the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs backing the General Election vote.
The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is vehemently opposed to the so-called divorce bill with the EU due to the post-Brexit invisible border planned in the Irish Sea, is also likely to back an election this time.
After he lost the vote on Monday evening, Johnson told the House of Commons: "We will not allow this paralysis to continue, and one way or another we must proceed straight to an election".
"The government will give notice of presentation for a short bill for an election on December 12 so we can finally get Brexit done. This House cannot any longer keep this country hostage," he said.
However, the Liberal Democrats still maintain that they do not trust Johnson's word and that he could still try and sneak through his Brexit Bill despite his commitment, making a new vote for a December 12 election still not a guarantee.
"If Boris Johnson wants a general election, then he could have supported our bill for a general election on December 9. Instead, he has chosen to stick to his original plan for December 12 which we have already rejected," said Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, whose party is pushing for an earlier date as it would not leave the government enough time to get any legislation through because the UK Parliament must be dissolved 25 days ahead of any election.
For a December 9 election, Parliament would need to pass its legislation by Thursday this week, but for a December 12 election it could wait until the middle of next week, leaving open a window for the controversial Brexit Bill to be brought back on the table.
Ian Blackford, the SNP leader in the Commons, said his party would need a "cast-iron guarantee" that the Prime Minister would not try to bring back his Brexit deal to Parliament.
The Opposition Labour Party is also undecided on which way it would go, with party leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying "we will consider carefully any legislation on an early election".
Under the Fixed Term Parliament, the next General Election is not due until 2022 and to push it through any time earlier, the PM needs the Parliament's backing.
The latest developments in Westminster follow the EU agreeing to offer the UK a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline, until January 31 next year, which Johnson formally accepted by issuing a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk and informing the Commons that he had done so.
"We must have December 12 as a 'hard stop'. A parliamentary terminus that everyone can believe in, and an election fulfils that purpose to allow a new Parliament and a new government to be in place by Christmas," Johnson told the Commons as he moved his election bid which was rejected by MPs on Monday night.
The EU responded to Johnson's letter saying the written procedure can now be go ahead for the so-called "Brexit flextension", which means the UK could leave earlier than January 2020 once a deal has been ratified.
But the prospect of Britain leaving the economic bloc by Thursday is now effectively off the table.

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First Published: Oct 29 2019 | 1:50 PM IST

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