Lib Dems, SNP will back election if EU grants 3-month extension

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Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson | Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Smaller opposition parties team-up to press for December 9 ballot.

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The leaders of the U.K.’s Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party will agree to a general election in early December if the EU confirms that it will offer a Brexit extension until January 31.

A bill laying out the plan will be put forward by the Liberal Democrats on Monday, with support from the SNP, U.K. media reported Sunday. The draft legislation will call for an election on December 9, just days before Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s preferred date of December 12.

But that depends on European Council President Donald Tusk first confirming a three-month extension in the Brexit process. The leader of the SNP in Westminster, Ian Blackford, and head of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, set out the request in a letter to Tusk published by ITV.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, Swinson said “one of the big concerns many people have had about going into a general election has been the fear that we would crash out of the EU without a deal either during that election or in the immediate aftermath, and our bill removes that threat.”

However, the two pro-EU parties hold less than a tenth of seats in parliament combined, making support from Johnson’s Conservatives or the opposition Labour Party crucial. It is unclear whether either will back the plan.

Labour have called on Johnson to definitively rule out the prospect of a no-deal Brexit before they agree to an election. Meanwhile, Johnson is expected to press for support for his own election plan for December 12 on Monday.

Should the Liberal Democrat/SNP plan not work, then ITV reported that the SNP will put forward a vote of no confidence in Johnson on Tuesday.

EU diplomats are expected to discuss the extension again Monday.

UK NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS

For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

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