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Parliament blocks Boris Johnson's plan for a snap general election

Boris Johnson emerges from Downing Street before today's vote. Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

LONDON — The U.K. Parliament voted Monday to reject Prime Minister Boris Johnson's attempt to call a snap general election on Dec. 12.

Why it matters: The EU granted the U.K. another Brexit extension until Jan. 31, underlining Johnson's failure to deliver on his "do or die" pledge to take the U.K. out of the bloc at the end of this month. Parliament agreed in principle last week to the deal he negotiated with the EU, but not to the expedited timetable on which he wanted to pass it. With momentum now stalled, Johnson wants an election fight before the end of the year.

The big picture: No election is due until 2022, but just about everyone agrees that the current Parliament is hopelessly deadlocked — with Johnson's minority government losing nearly every vote.

  • The fight is now about when to hold an election and on what terms.
  • But the movement to end the deadlock could well result in continued deadlock.

What to watch: Two opposition parties that fiercely oppose Brexit — the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats — have proposed an election around the same time as Johnson proposed, but with Brexit sidelined until afterward.

  • In a surprise twist, Johnson today signaled that he'd adopt that idea as his "Plan B." That could give it enough votes to pass later this week, but things could easily hit a snag.
  • All three of the parties backing a December election hope to take seats from the beleaguered Labour Party, which is fraying badly due to Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn’s divisive leadership. Corbyn opposes a December vote but may find himself outflanked.

What they're saying:

  • Johnson on Corbyn: "He's still coming up with ever more ludicrous excuses for hiding from the British people."
  • Corbyn: "The reason I'm so cautious is because I do not trust the prime minister."
  • SNP leader Ian Blackford: "It's about the opposition coming together and taking the keys of No. 10 Downing Street away from a prime minister that we can't trust. ... But we find that the Labour Party wants to sit on their hands."
  • Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson: "We cannot just wait, because my fear is that either the government pushes ahead with their withdrawal bill and it's delivered ... or that we end up in January, a couple weeks away from crashing out without a deal ... but that time the EU says, 'I'm sorry.'"

Go deeper: Everything you need to know about Brexit