UK MPs overwhelmingly backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid for an early election on December 12 with 438 votes in favour and 20 against.
Following this so-called third and final reading vote on Tuesday evening, the bill is now due to go the House of Lords.
MPs rejected earlier on Tuesday evening an amendment to the bill that sought to change the election date to December 9. 315 MPs voted against the change, while 295 voted in favour.
The votes on Tuesday mark a rare parliamentary success for Johnson — MPs not only backed his bid for an early election, but also his preferred date. This victory follows three previous failed attempts to go to the country early to seek a new mandate.
Johnson demanded an election after parliament frustrated his push to ratify the last-minute divorce deal he struck with the EU.
The UK’s ruling Conservatives have no parliamentary majority, and parties are bitterly divided over a way forward.
House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said that the dissolution date for Parliament would be next Wednesday, November 6.
The EU agreed on Monday to a UK request to delay Brexit, beyond this week’s Halloween deadline to January 31, 2020.
Johnson’s government agreed a revised divorce deal with the EU earlier this month, but suspended the parliamentary bill to implement it after lawmakers opposed the planned fast-track timetable. The agreement needs the approval of the British and European parliaments to take effect.
“There is only one way to get Brexit done in the face of this unrelenting parliamentary obstructionism, this endless, wilful, fingers crossed, ‘not me guv’ refusal to refresh this parliament and give the people a choice,” Johnson told the House of Commons.
As election preparations got underway, Johnson restored the Conservative whip to 10 of the 21 Tory rebels who were expelled from the party in September after they voted against the government.
The prime minister’s critics – including former Tory ministers such as Philip Hammond and Ken Clarke – blame him for the Brexit delay, accusing him of unnecessarily suspending the EU withdrawal bill in the relentless pursuit of an election.
Corbyn’s speech to parliament on Tuesday gave an indication that Labour may look to campaign on domestic issues rather than on Brexit, on which it is divided.
“Whatever date the House decides the election will be, I’m ready for it, we’re ready for it,” Corbyn said. “We want to be able to say to the people of this country there is an alternative to austerity. There is an alternative to austerity. There is an alternative to sweetheart trade deals with Donald Trump.”
Several Labour MPs voted against the election.
“We’re going to go out there with the biggest campaign this party has ever mounted,” Corbyn said, adding that Labour would “give a message of hope where there isn’t one with this government.”
The first Christmas election in Britain since 1923 could be highly unpredictable.
Campaigning and getting voters out could be hampered by cold winter weather and darkness setting in by mid-afternoon.
Johnson’s Conservatives are ahead of Labour by an average of about 10 percentage points in polls this month.
But pollsters underestimated the support for Brexit in 2016 and admit that the models they use are wilting beside the Brexit furnace.
Both major parties will have to fight on at least three fronts: against each other while the hardline Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage seeks to poach Brexit voters and the Liberal Democrats seek to win over opponents of Brexit.
The election result will be announced in the early hours of Friday the 13th. If no party wins conclusively, the Brexit deadlock would continue.
The Conservative Party have an 85.7% predicted chance of winning the most seats.
Bookmakers have priced up the Tories as strong favourites at 1/6, with odds on Labour winning the most seats drifting out to 7/1.