LONDON: Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Thursday for a general election on Dec. 12 to break Britain’s Brexit impasse, conceding for the first time he will not meet his “do or die” deadline to leave the European Union next week.
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 looks 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 favor 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.
“This parliament has refused to take decisions. It cannot refuse to let the voters replace it with a new parliament that can make decisions,” he wrote to Corbyn.
“Prolonging this paralysis into 2020 would have dangerous consequences for businesses, jobs and for basic confidence in democratic institutions, already badly damaged by the behavior of parliament since the referendum. Parliament cannot continue to hold the country hostage.”
In parliament after the government announced the new vote on an election for Monday, Labour’s parliamentary business manager Valerie Vaz did not say whether the party would back the move, saying only it would wait to see what the EU says about a delay on Friday.