UK PM to Push for Election Again

UK PM to Push for Election Again

LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is asking Parliament — for a fourth time — to approve an early election after lawmakers rejected his latest bid to secure a vote in hope of breaking the agonizing political deadlock over Brexit.

Legislators are being asked to vote Tuesday on a short bill calling an election on Dec. 12. The legislation requires a simple majority to be passed.

An earlier proposal was made under a different procedure that required a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons. It failed to hit that mark Monday — Johnson's third such defeat.

To win support from opposition parties, Johnson shelved his contentious EU withdrawal agreement until after the election.

Opposition parties have not said whether they will back the election call. The Liberal Democrats and Scottish National Party have proposed an earlier date of Dec. 9, to reduce the possibility Johnson could try to pass his withdrawal bill — which would allow Britain to leave the European Union and hand Johnson a major achievement — before the campaign begins.

"It cannot be the 12th," said Liberal Democrat lawmaker Chuka Ummuna, who suggested his party could accept a compromise date of Dec. 10 or 11.

"We will see what else they come forward with," he said. "We have got to break the gridlock."

Johnson took office in July vowing to "get Brexit done" after his predecessor, Theresa May, resigned in defeat. Parliament had rejected her divorce deal with the bloc three times, and the EU had delayed Britain's scheduled March 29 departure — first to April, and then to October.

But Johnson has faced similar political gridlock, as Parliament blocked his attempt to push through his Brexit deal before the country's scheduled Oct. 31 departure date and made him ask the EU for more time.

On Monday the EU agreed to postpone Brexit again, until Jan. 31, acting to avert a chaotic U.K. departure just three days before Britain was due to become the first country ever to leave the 28-nation bloc.

Johnson, who said just weeks ago that he would "rather be dead in a ditch" than postpone the U.K.'s leaving date past Oct. 31, was forced to seek the extension on Parliament's orders to avoid a no-deal Brexit, which would damage the economies of both Britain and the EU.

Now Johnson wants an early election as a way of breaking the political deadlock over the country's stalled departure from the EU. Though he was rebuffed by lawmakers on Monday, an election appears inevitable well before the next scheduled one in 2022 if Britain is to move on from the stalemate caused by a prime minister who vowed to deliver Brexit "do or die" and a Parliament that has repeatedly thwarted him.

Johnson has accused his opponents of betraying voters' decision to leave the EU by thwarting the government's Brexit plans.

He said that unless there was an election, the government would be "like Charlie Brown, endlessly running up to kick the ball only to have Parliament whisk it away."

"We cannot continue with this endless delay."

(KR)