Column: Britain Gears Up For Crucial Elections

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: Britain is getting ready for its first December election since 1923. Before that, the country had gone to polls in the year-end month in 1918 when troops returning from World War I had joined women voting for the first time.

A December election follows opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn’s willingness to pick up the poll gauntlet thrown down by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson who now knows, like everyone else in this country, that the October 31 deadline for Brexit cannot be met because a no-deal Brexit is off the table.

That is what seems to have made Corbyn, the bealeaguered leader of the Labour Party, accept the challenge of an election. Johnson, on his part, seems confident that a victory in the polls would hand him the necessary mandate to get Brexit done with the deal he has reached with the European Union.

‘The deal is there,’ he told MPs recently, adding ‘It is ready to be approved by a new parliament, with a government yearning with every fibre of their being to be able to get on and deliver our one-nation Conservative agenda.’ Corbyn, on the other hand, said: ‘I am ready for it, we are ready for it. We will now launch the most ambitious, radical campaign for real change in this country.’

One of the pre-election polls suggests that Conservatives led by Johnson have surged to a huge 17-point lead at the start of the general election campaign. Prime Minister’s personal rating also seems to have gone up because of his bold stand on the Brexit issue.

Corbyn, on the other hand, seems to have suffered due to his equivocality. He is seen as a fence sitter on Brexit. According to the opinion poll mentioned above, eight in 10 people think he has done “a bad job” at handling Brexit, indicating that neither Leave nor Remain supporters admire his performance.

While Corbyn kicked off Labour’s campaign with a rally in Battersea where he vowed to “get Brexit sorted within six months” and lashed out at “tax dodgers, dodgy landlords, bad bosses and big polluters”, the Prime Minister has promised to “get Brexit done and deliver on the people’s priorities, including the NHS, education and crime.”

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson launched her party’s slogan — Stop Brexit. Build a brighter future — and dispatched an ad-van that would go around her rivals’ constituencies.

According to one of the assessments, going by the present standing of different parties Conservative should have 41 per cent, Labour, 24 per cent, Liberal Democrats, 20 per cent, Brexit Party, seven per cent and Greens, three per cent of the vote. That should make the Conservatives happy as it happens to be their highest vote share since June 2018.

While Johnson’s popularity scores are high, his rival Corbyn seems to be struggling. Labour voters are divided about their leader, with 46 per cent satisfied and 49 per cent dissatisfied. The election, by all indications, is going to be crucial, one that will decide the future of the country and that of some of its key leaders.

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