Boris Johnson tells Tories to prepare for ‘tough’ election fight after he wins bid to take nation to the polls

Boris Johnson has told Tory MPs to prepare for a “tough” general election fight after he finally won his bid to take the nation to the polls on December 12.

After the Prime Minister’s victory in the Commons last night after three previous failed attempts, he sought to rally Conservatives behind his pledge to “get Brexit done”.

The Tories go into the campaign in buoyant mood, with one opinion poll at the weekend putting them 16 points ahead of Labour. But addressing MPs, Mr Johnson cautioned against complacency.

“It’s time for the country to come together, get Brexit done and go forward. It’ll be a tough election and we are going to do the best we can,” he said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has won his bid to take the nation to the polls on December 12 (via REUTERS)

The one-page Bill enabling the election to be held now goes to the House of Lords, but it is unlikely to be held up in the unelected upper chamber.

Once it receives the royal assent, it will pave the way for Parliament to be dissolved on November 6 marking the start of the campaign in earnest.

In the end, the Bill passed the Commons by 438 votes to 20 – although a vote to alter the date, which Downing Street warned would scupper the whole thing, was much closer with a Government majority of just 20.

Vote breakdown: Parliament votes for December general election

The Prime Minister is aiming to restore the Tories’ Commons majority lost by Theresa May in 2107 so he can finally end three years of deadlock and get his Brexit deal through Parliament.

However, there are risks in going to the country having failed to deliver on his promise to deliver Brexit by October 31 “do or die” and with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party denouncing his deal with Brussels.

A pre-Christmas poll means voter turnout likely to be depressed on the dark December nights while the Conservatives may also suffer at the ballot box if the NHS is hit by a winter flu crisis.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the election offers a ‘once-in-a-generation’ chance to transform the country (AFP via Getty Images)

Jeremy Corbyn sought to strike an upbeat note, saying the election offered a “once-in-generation” chance to transform the country.

It was the Labour leader’s decision finally to back an election which enabled Mr Johnson to get it through the Commons.

MPs vote to approve pre-Christmas general election

He had been under intense pressure to relent after the Liberal Democrats and the SNP said at the weekend that they would be prepared to support a December poll.

However, many Labour MPs are deeply unhappy at the prospect fearing that they are heading for another election defeat.

Only 127 of the party’s 244 MPs voted for the election while more than 50 signed an amendment calling for the poll to be delayed until May 2020.

Mr Corbyn sought to characterise the election as a contest between Conservatives “who think they are born to rule” and Labour’s programme of radical reform.

MPs vote against changing the date of the general election to December 9

Writing in the Daily Mirror, he highlighted their plans to take rail, water and energy into public ownership while raising taxes on those “at the top” to invest in public services.

“We’re launching the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change that our country has ever seen. This is a once in a generation chance to build a country for the many not the few,” he said.

Boris Johnson has won his bid for a December election, after failing three times to get it through the Commons (AP)

The Lib Dems go into the election confident their pro-Remain stance will see them pick up support with leader Jo Swinson pitching herself as “the Liberal Democrat candidate for prime minister”.

“It is our best chance to elect a government to stop Brexit,” she said.

For the SNP, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was an opportunity for Scotland to put an independence referendum back on the agenda.

“A win for the SNP will be an unequivocal and irresistible demand for Scotland’s right to choose our own future,” she said.


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