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  1. ITV Report

Boris Johnson one step closer to a general election after MPs approve December 12 date

  • Video report by ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston

MPs have voted for a general election on December 12, meaning the Prime Minister is now a step closer to his wish of a national poll.

Boris Johnson's proposed general election date was approved by 438 to 20, a majority of 418.

It came after the Commons voted by 315 to 295 to reject a Labour amendment for the election to be held on Monday, December 9 - three days earlier than ministers wanted.

The vote effectively clears the way for Parliament to be dissolved on November 6 ahead of a general election on December 12, so long as it is approved by the House of Lords.

  • ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston on how much of a gamble this could be for Boris Johnson

The Early Parliamentary General Election Bill must now be scrutinised in the House of Lords before it can gain Royal Assent and become law, but it is highly unlikely that the unelected Upper House would not approve it.

The one-page Bill sets aside the provisions of the Fixed-Term Parliament's Act, meaning the Government did not require a two-thirds "super majority" to get it through.

Boris Johnson has moved a step closer to finally having his wish of a general election before Christmas. Credit: PA

The result means Mr Johnson finally has within his grasp the election he has been pushing for since September after three previous attempts - the most recent on Monday - failed.

After the vote Prime Minister Johnson headed for a meeting for the Conservatives' 1922 Committee, where he received a rapturous reception and told the Tory backbenchers he was prepared for a "tough" election fight in the weeks ahead.

"I think it's time for the country to come together, get Brexit done and go forward," he said.

"It'll be a tough election and we are going to do the best we can."

The opposition parties had wanted to bring forward polling day to cut off any possibility Mr Johnson could make a fresh attempt to ram through his Brexit deal before Parliament is dissolved.

However, Downing Street warned that it was not "logistically possible" while Government sources accused the opposition of a deliberate attempt to scupper the whole election.

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Despite Jeremy Corbyn failing in his bid to change the election date, he said following the vote that it was a once-in-a-generation chance.

He added: "The choice at this election could not be clearer.

"A Labour government will be on your side, while Boris Johnson’s Conservatives – who think they’re born to rule – will only look after the privileged few."

Mr Corbyn also posted a video on Twitter, and wrote: "The General Election has just been called. It's time for real change."

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Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson, whose party backed an election as the only way to resolve Brexit, said she will be standing in the poll as "candidate for prime minister".

She said the first thing she would do if she was successful would be to "stop Brexit".

"It is our best chance to elect a Government to stop Brexit", she said, adding that "the Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain and will be standing on a manifesto to stop Brexit by revoking Article 50".

The election breakthrough came after Mr Corbyn finally bowed to intense pressure and agreed in principle to support an election.

It followed the announcement at the weekend by the Lib Dems and the SNP that they would support an election if they could be sure Mr Johnson would not reintroduce the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) to ratify his Brexit deal.

Following a meeting of the shadow cabinet, the Labour leader said their condition that a no-deal-Brexit was taken "off the table" had finally been met after the EU agreed to another extension to the end of January.

"I have consistently said that we are ready for an election and our support is subject to a no-deal Brexit being off the table," he said.

"We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen."

However, with the party trailing in the polls, many Labour MPs are deeply unhappy at the prospect of an election in the run-up to Christmas.

More than 50 signed an amendment calling for the election to be delayed to May 2020.

The party confirmed all MPs who had been facing trigger ballots - constituency votes that look to replace MPs - would automatically be reselected, subject to NEC approval.

It said any MP that is not facing suspension or retirement will be able to fight the next election as Labour candidates.

A party spokesperson added: "We're more prepared that we've ever been at this stage in the Parliamentary cycle, ready to launch the most ambitious, radical campaign for change that this country has ever seen."

The 10 Tory MPs who have been given the whip back. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, ten MPs who were expelled from the Conservative Party last month after rebelling over Brexit will be allowed to compete in the election as Tories after they had the whip restored.

A spokesperson said the following MPs will be allowed to stand as Conservative candidates if they do not step down.

  • Alistair Burt
  • Caroline Noakes
  • Greg Clarke
  • Nicholas Soames
  • Ed Vaizey
  • Margot James
  • Steve Brine
  • Richard Benyon
  • Stephen Hammond

"They have had the whip offered back to them, they have accepted the whip: they are Conservative Members of Parliament with the Tory whip," the spokesperson said.