EU grants three-month Brexit extension as UK Parliament prepares for election vote

Eyes turn back to UK as Prime Minister tries to force through plans for pre-Christmas election

The EU has granted the UK’s request for a Brexit extension until January 31, 2020, potentially paving the way for a pre-Christmas election.

MPs will now debate a Government motion calling for a general election, with a vote expected sometime early this evening, October 28.

If the Government, as expected, fails to achieve the two-thirds majority required under the Fixed-term Parliament Act (FTPA), Downing Street sources have suggested it will explore other ways of forcing a poll.

That might include supporting a plan put forward by two smaller opposition parties – the Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party – to use legislation to bypass the FTPA.

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That would effectively sidestep the main opposition Labour Party’s ability to veto an election. Government sources have suggested that, if he loses the vote on Monday evening, Johnson may table a very similar bill as early as October 29.

Johnson is gambling on an election returning him to power with a large enough majority to force through his Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Parties who want to remain in the EU are hoping an election will strengthen their hand in a push for a second referendum. The Labour Party has said up to now that it wouldn’t support an election unless a no-deal Brexit was categorically ruled out.

The new Brexit extension lets the UK leave earlier than January 31 if a deal is ratified before that date. In that case, the UK would quit the EU on the first day of the month after the deal was signed.

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