UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on October 24 2019 in London, England. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/CHRIS RATCLIFFE
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street on October 24 2019 in London, England. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/CHRIS RATCLIFFE

London — UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will seek a general election on December 12, setting up a national vote on his Brexit strategy.

Johnson briefed his cabinet on Thursday afternoon and announced that a motion will be put to parliament for a vote on Monday. It will need a two-thirds majority for an election to be called.

“‘It is our duty to end this nightmare and provide the country with a solution as soon as we reasonably can,” Johnson said in a letter to Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn appealing for his law makers to support the move. “These repeated delays have been bad for the economy, bad for businesses, and bad for millions of people trying to plan their futures.”

The EU was widely expected to grant a three-month extension when ambassadors meet in Brussels on Friday, putting back the UK’s exit until January 31. Johnson said in an interview with the BBC that he will give MPs more time to debate his Brexit deal if they agree to the December 12 date.

“The way to get Brexit done is, I think, to be reasonable with parliament and say ‘If they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal, they can have it, but they have to agree to a general election on December 12’,” Johnson said in a pooled TV interview. “It’s time, frankly, that the opposition summoned up the nerve to submit themselves to the judgment of our collective boss, which is the people of the UK.”

Johnson will need two thirds of MPs to back the motion, giving Labour an effective veto if all of its 245 MPs hold the party line. He’s twice failed to win his parliament’s support for an early national vote.

If parliament gives its approval there will need to be 25 working days after it is dissolved before an election can be held.

Johnson pledged “do or die” to get Brexit done by the existing deadline of October 31, and tried to get parliamentary approval for an accelerated timetable to pass his agreement into UK law. But MPs — who voted in favor of the deal in principle — rejected a three-day schedule for the draft bill on Tuesday.

Johnson was required to seek a Brexit extension to January 31 when he failed to get a deal through parliament by October 19 and the EU is due to give its formal response on Friday morning.

With Alex Morales

Bloomberg