Political parties are gearing up for a general election in 43 days’ time after the House of Commons approved a 12 December ballot.
Within minutes of the House of Commons voting in favour of the first December election since 1923 last night, party leaders delivered their key messages in an early attempt to shape the nature of the coming campaign.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed it was “time for the country to come together” as he offered the Conservative Party’s pledge to “get Brexit done and go forward”.
He has vowed to use the general election to ask voters to support his Brexit deal and return a Conservative majority who can ratify the UK’s divorce agreement in law.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promised the “most ambitious and radical campaign for real change that our country has ever seen”.
His party immediately emailed all Labour supporters asking them to “chip in” with small donations to help fund their campaign.
And Mr Corbyn’s key backers, Momentum, claimed they would conduct the “biggest people-powered campaign this country has ever seen” on behalf of Labour.
Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson offered herself as a prime ministerial candidate at an election she characterised as the “best chance to elect a government to stop Brexit”.
She also revealed her party are poised to “accelerate” talks with fellow Remain-backing parties, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, over an election alliance in some seats.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader, will launch her party’s election campaign in Stirling on Wednesday.
The SNP will campaign to “stop Brexit and demand Scotland’s right to choose independence,” Ms Sturgeon said.
The Brexit Party – who were only founded in January – will be looking for an immediate breakthrough at their first Westminster election, having topped the polls at May’s European Parliament elections.
After MPs approved the 12 December poll, their party leader Nigel Farage said: “At last the deadlock in parliament is broken, Brexit now has a chance to succeed.”
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley declared himself “totally up for it” and promised the “biggest Green campaign ever” ahead of the election.
Voters will get an early taste of the battles to come over the next six weeks at Wednesday’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions.
This will come before Mr Johnson leads a debate on a report from the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry, a tragedy that occurred in the week after the last general election in 2017.
That election saw former prime minister Theresa May lose the Tories’ Commons majority, having called the poll in an attempt to increase the number of Conservative MPs in order to push through her Brexit plans.
Her successor is now pursuing the same strategy, but Mr Johnson will be wary of the impact of his failure to achieve his “do or die” pledge to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October.
MPs approved the pre-Christmas general election just hours after European Council President Donald Tusk announced the EU had formally accepted a three-month extension to the Article 50 negotiating period.
He warned the UK’s latest Brexit delay – reluctantly requested by Mr Johnson – may be “the last one”, adding: “Please make the best use of this time.”
The House of Lords is expected to rubber stamp a bill for the 12 December election on Wednesday, with parliament then due to be dissolved a week later to fire the starting gun on the official campaign period.
Politics reporter @GregHeffer Political parties are gearing up for a general election in 43 days’ time after the House of Commons approved a 12 December ballot. Within minutes of the House of Commons voting in favour of the first December election since 1923 last night, party leaders delivered their key messages in an early attempt to shape the nature of the coming campaign.