UK’s party leaders brace for Brexit election
LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn were set to trade barbs over Brexit and public spending Wednesday when they face off in Parliament for the last time before a Dec. 12 general election.
The House of Commons on Tuesday approved an early election in hopes of breaking the deadlock over Britain’s departure from the European Union. While Johnson’s Conservative Party has a wide lead in opinion polls, analysts say the election is unpredictable because Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties.
Johnson and Corbyn will trade carefully crafted quips when they face off in their regularly scheduled question-and-answer session. This will be the last episode of Prime Minister’s Questions before Parliament is suspended for the election.
Johnson has told Conservative lawmakers this will be a “tough election.”
After three years of inconclusive political wrangling over Brexit, British voters are weary and the results of an election are hard to predict.
The House of Commons voted 438-20 on Tuesday night — with dozens of lawmakers abstaining — for a bill authorizing an election on Dec. 12. It will become law once it is approved Wednesday by the unelected House of Lords, which doesn’t have the power to overrule the elected Commons.
The looming vote comes two and a half years before the next scheduled election, due in 2022, and will be the country’s first December election since 1923.
Meanwhile, the Brexit conundrum remains unsolved — and the clock is ticking down to the new deadline of Jan. 31.
“To my British friends,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted Tuesday. “The EU27 has formally adopted the extension. It may be the last one. Please make the best use of this time.”