The House of Lords last night crossed the Ts and dotted the Is on Boris Johnson’s election bill, meaning that a 12 December election is now firmly in the calendar.
The opposition parties have been clamouring for an election for months, while Johnson’s Conservatives have also been asking to go to the country to break the Brexit deadlock. So with Britain going back to the polls in just six weeks’ time, what do the main parties stand for?
Conservative Party (leader: Boris Johnson)
Brexit: If Johnson gets his way, this election will be framed as a vote on “getting Brexit done”. The Guardian reports that he will be “banking on weariness in the country about a further referendum” to push the idea that Parliament frustrated his efforts to leave the EU on 31 October, and a vote for the Conservatives will strengthen his hand in getting the UK out of the EU.
Non-Brexit: Elsewhere, the prime minister has made a series of promises ranging from increasing the number of police on the streets, to pledging more money for schools. He has also stood by his Brexit referendum promise to pump more money into the NHS, and he has been visiting hospitals in recent weeks.
Best odds of winning most seats: 1/6
Best odds of winning majority : 10/11
Labour Party (leader: Jeremy Corbyn)
Brexit: Labour’s Brexit policy has been a source of confusion for some voters. But at its party conference in September it solidified into a plan to negotiate a close future relationship with the EU27, before putting that deal to the public in a referendum. The referendum would include a “credible Leave option” and Remain, however there are “internal divisions” over which side Labour should back, according to the BBC.
Non-Brexit: If Johnson wants to frame the election as a vote on Brexit, Corbyn and Labour will want to do the opposite. Labour will try to focus on its “transformative domestic policies”, which include plans for a green new deal and huge investment in public services.
Best odds of winning most seats: 13/2
Best odds of winning majority : 16/1
Liberal Democrats (leader: Jo Swinson)
Brexit: On Brexit, the Lib Dems are unequivocal. The party made headlines with its “Bollocks to Brexit” slogan and will be campaigning as the voice of anti-Leave voters. The party refused to back an election until the Government shelved its withdrawal bill, and at its party conference agreed that it would revoke Brexit if it wins a shock majority.
Non-Brexit: While best known for being Brexit focused, the party also has plans to invest in the NHS and public transport, while increasing government focus on the climate emergency. The Lib Dems are also committed to protecting the union, with Swinson telling the Evening Standard: “There is no way you are going to take away my Britishness. I’m Scottish, British, European. I have to fight for that.”
Best odds of winning most seats: 40/1
Best odds of winning majority: 80/1
Scottish National Party (leader: Nicola Sturgeon)
Brexit: Scotland was the only country in the United Kingdom to vote Remain, and the SNP has not let Westminster forget it. The party is opposed to Johnson’s withdrawal deal, and it backs a second referendum on membership of the EU, arguing that the 2016 vote was “undermined by misinformation and false promises”.
Non-Brexit: Unsurprisingly, the party’s main policy is another vote on independence for Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that an independence vote will be a primary demand if a Labour minority government seeks a post-election deal. The party is also likely to campaign on opposition to austerity, welfare reforms and the Tories’ “hostile environment” immigration policy. Votes for 16-year-olds is also a long-standing policy.
Brexit Party (leader: Nigel Farage)
Brexit: As the name suggests, Nigel Farage’s upstart party is all about getting the hardest possible Brexit, as soon as possible. The Brexit Party advocates a “clean Brexit”, meaning no-deal, full freedom to trade around the world and total extraction of the UK from EU institutions. Farage has been campaigning to pull out of the EU since the 1990s, but even Johnson’s deal, which included paying a so-called “divorce bill” to the EU, was not a pure enough Brexit to gain his support.
Non-Brexit: A contentious point, as the party has refused to publish a manifesto, and Farage has argued during an appearance on talkRADIO that to voters, “manifesto equals lie”. The party is also a broad church, with members including former Tories and British Revolutionary Communist Party members. The Guardian suggests that policies may include “abolishing the House of Lords, proportional representation, reviewing the way the BBC works, abolishing inheritance tax and redirecting foreign aid”.
Best odds of winning most seats: 50/1
Best odds of winning majority: 100/1
Green Party (co-leaders: Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley)
Brexit: The only party as resolutely pro-EU as the Lib Dems, the Greens are backing a vote on the terms of any Brexit deal. The party’s only MP, Caroline Lucas, has been a key figure in the so-called “Remain alliance”. She backs remaining in the EU after Brighton & Hove, which contains her constituency, voted 68.6% to remain in 2016.
Non-Brexit: With the climate crisis firmly on the agenda thanks to Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion protesters, the Greens will be pushing for policies to tackle the climate emergency. The party has pledged to reduce C02 emissions to net zero by 2030. In his conference speech last month, co-leader Jonathan Bartley also called for the abolition of the Home Office.
Best odds of winning most seats: 1,000/1
Best odds of winning majority: 500/1
Odds from Oddschecker, as of 11.40am on 31 October.