Boris Johnson calls for a snap general election on December 12

Boris Johnson has called on his opponents to back a general election before Christmas after Members of Parliament. defeated his programme for government in a crunch House of Commons vote on Thursday.

The prime minister will now bring forward a motion on Monday urging oppostion parties to back a vote on December 12 which would dissolve parliament and allow a fresh election within weeks.

Under the Fixed Term Parliament's Act, the vote will require the support of two-thirds of MPs.

Two previous attempts by Johnson to secure an early election were rejected by opposition parties. However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has committed to backing a new election once the threat of a no-deal Brexit is removed.

European leaders are expected to grant the UK another delay to Brexit on Friday morning, paving the way for Corbyn to back a Christmas election.

Will Labour back a general election?

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Under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, an election can only take place in the UK every five years unless two-thirds of MPs agree otherwise.

On the two previous occasions when Johnson has sought to secure that two-thirds majority, he has failed thanks to both Labour and other opposition parties refusing to back an early poll.

Labour justified this decision at the time as a means of preventing Johnson taking the UK out of the EU without a deal. However, the other motivating factor was a belief among some in Corbyn's Shadow Cabinet that forcing Johnson to delay Brexit instead would give Labour their best bet of winning an early election.

However, some around Corbyn now believe that this latter calculation was badly misjudged and that an October election, before Johnson had secured a deal with the EU, would have been the party's best and possibly only chance of preventing an election victory for the government.

As a result the Labour leadership now favours an early election, preferably before Johnson has ratified a deal with the EU

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