EU agrees to flextension

Johnson makes fourth attempt to secure general election

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson will try again

Boris Johnson will make a fourth attempt to hold an early general election, after MPs voted down his latest move.

The Commons backed the government’s election motion by 299 to 70 on Monday, but this was short of the two-thirds majority needed under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.

Immediately after the defeat, Mr Johnson announced he would call for a 12 December election via a bill that will bypass the rule. A similar bill from the SNP and Liberal Democrats seeks an election on 9 December.

However, both these bills will be subjects to possible amendments, which could pose new political risks.

Parliament has to be dissolved a minimum of 25 working days before the date of an election to allow sufficient preparations to take place.

The Lib Dems and the SNP want an election on 9 December because they say that will prevent any chance of Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal being approved before Parliament is dissolved.

Critics say the Lib Dems and SNP are playing into Mr Johnson’s hands. Opinion polls says the Tories are on course to win an election, and a majority would enable Mr Johnson to trigger the Brexit deal.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would consider the legislation but would only support an election once a no-deal Brexit had been taken off the table.

He also called for assurances that students would not be “disenfranchised” if the vote was held outside term time.

The latest moves follow the EU agreeing to extend the Brexit deadline to 31 January. It said there can be no renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The so-called “flextension” would allow the UK to leave before the deadline if a deal is approved by Parliament before that date.

The UK was due to leave the EU this Thursday, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson must accept the delay under the Benn Act law passed last month by MPs.

The EU’s insistence that the deal cannot be renegotiated will be a blow to those such as the SNP and Labour who want to see it amended to include continued membership of a customs union and single market.

Actors paid to support independence

Meanwhile, the Scottish Sun has reported that actors are being offered £600 to appear in an SNP advert claiming they would now back separation.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of anti-independence group Scotland in Union, said: “This shows just how desperate the campaign to leave the UK has become.

“The Nationalists have resorted to paying actors £600 a day to spread their propaganda. 

“The reality is that the campaign to leave the UK is losing supporters four times faster than it is gaining them, as the reality of breaking up Britain becomes clearer.

“Rather than paying people in a new currency, erecting a hard border with England, and cutting services for the most vulnerable, the best future for Scotland is growing our economy and preserving our social and cultural ties as part of the UK.”

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