UPDATE: UK lawmakers back December 12 election
LONDON (AP) — Britons will be heading out to vote in the dark days of December after the House of Commons on Tuesday backed an early national vote that could break the country’s political impasse over Brexit — or turn out to be merely a temporary distraction.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes that electing a new crop of lawmakers will provide a solution to the deadlock that has stalled the UK’s departure from the European Union.
The House of Commons voted 428-20 — with dozens of lawmakers abstaining — for a bill authorising an election on December 12.
It will become law once it is approved Wednesday by the unelected House of Lords, which does not have the power to overrule the elected Commons.
Johnson is pushing for an election in hopes of breaking the parliamentary stalemate that blocked his plan to take Britain out of the European Union this month.
This week the EU granted Britain a three-month Brexit extension until January 31.
Johnson is gambling that an election will give his Conservative Party a majority. But after three years of inconclusive political wrangling over Brexit, British voters are weary and the results of an election are hard to predict.
Johnson — who has had to abandon his vow to lead Britain out of the EU on October 31 “do or die” — accused his opponents of wanting to prolong the Brexit process “until the 12th of never.”
He told lawmakers in Parliament on Tuesday there was no choice but “to go to the country to break free from this impasse.”
“There is only one way to get Brexit done in the face of this unrelenting parliamentary obstructionism, this endless, wilful, fingers crossed, ‘not me gave’ refusal to deliver on the mandate of the people — and that is to refresh this Parliament and give the people a choice,” Johnson said.