Buckle up, BoJo. The December election is on

Yesterday we looked at the sudden shift by the opposition Labour Party in Great Britain toward supporting a new round of elections in December. Despite this being an outcome desired by Prime Minister (and Conservative Party leader) Boris Johnson, his opponents clearly feel that they may get the upper hand. That’s what happened to Theresa May in 2017 when she attempted the same thing, so they may have a point. Either way, the weary Brits will trudge back to the polls yet again and possibly determine if the long national nightmare of Brexit will finally be over soon. (Associated Press)

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 electing a new crop of lawmakers will give his Conservative Party a majority and break the 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 Jan. 31.

But after three years of inconclusive political wrangling over Brexit, British voters are weary and the results of an election are hard to predict.

It had originally been thought that if the new elections were approved in the House of Commons it would be a razor-thin margin, possibly coming down to the final decisions of a handful of Irish DUP MPs. But in the end, the vote was 438-20 with a few dozen members abstaining. So BoJo gets his new round of voting and it passed by a landslide.

Both the Brexiteers and the Remainers are betting heavily on the outcome of this next vote and one of them has to wind up being wrong. If the Tories can manage to retake a solid majority of their own without needing to cut deals with others to retain power, Johnson should (at least in theory) be able to sail out of the EU shortly thereafter. But if Labour, the Lib Dems and their allies make even more gains than last time, they might be in a position to call for a new referendum on Brexit, tossing the entire question back up in the air. (And possibly tossing Johnson out of 10 Downing Street in the process.)

Interestingly, when Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave his first campaign speech after the vote, he never even mentioned Brexit once. He instead pushed the idea that his party had the more appealing platform in terms of public benefits, health care and social programs. He literally invoked the idea that Labour would take care of the common people while the Conservatives were only concerned with “the privileged.” (Is any of this sounding familiar to American audiences?)

As we discussed yesterday, the latest polling in the UK shows Johnson and the Conservative Party with a sixteen point edge over Labour. But they enjoyed nearly the same advantage in 2017 when Theresa May called for snap elections and look how that turned out. Anyone who tells you they know how things will go in the December vote is probably selling something.