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Why does Boris Johnson want a December election amid the Brexit stalemate?

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Why does Boris Johnson want a December election amid the Brexit stalemate?
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Boris Johnson has called for a general election in the UK on December 12, if the EU offers to delay Brexit until January 31.

The British prime minister wants to break the deadlock in the House of Commons, where his Conservative government has no majority and his Brexit legislation has met resistance.

EU envoys have agreed in principle to another Brexit extension, but discussions will continue over the weekend to determine its duration.

The UK's scheduled departure date is still October 31.

Recent polling appears to give succour to Johnson – and provide opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn with food for thought.

Opinion polls carried out since the prime minister struck a revised deal with the EU are largely favourable to him. According to Britain Elects, which collates the findings of various surveys, the Tories (35%) have an average 10% lead over the Labour Party (25%).

Electoral Calculus, which predicts election results from polling data and electoral geography, predicted a Conservative majority of 58 in parliament – based on surveys carried out in the first half of October, before the deal was done.

Other surveys suggest Johnson’s deal has gone down better with the public than Theresa May’s agreement.

A snap poll by ComRes for the Daily Express – compiled on October 17, the day the deal was agreed – suggested that 40% of people supported the new deal, compared to just under a third (31%) who opposed it.

A Deltapoll survey, carried out over the following weekend, brought a narrower margin – 32% in favour of the deal and 29% against. Almost four in ten were undecided.

Read more: What's in Boris Johnson's Brexit deal with the European Union?

'Method in the PM's madness'

Political Scientist Sir John Curtice from Strathclyde University told Euronews that a Johnson electoral victory was “not an unreasonable expectation” – although there was no guarantee of success, and the result could be another hung parliament with no overall majority for any party.

He added that even if Johnson’s call for an election failed, a limited Brexit extension would bring another hard deadline which opponents of no-deal might not be able to prevent.

“There is method in what might seem madness on the prime minister’s side,” Professor Curtice told Euronews Now. “He either gets his deal through and gets an election – an election in circumstances that would be highly favourable – or he doesn’t get it through, he doesn’t have an election… But then we’re back into a situation where MPs are being told: ‘it’s my deal or no deal’.”

View the interview with Professor John Curtice in the video player above.

British lawmakers are due to vote on a snap election on Monday. The approval of two-thirds of MPs is needed. Labour say they will only back an election if a no-deal Brexit is ruled out.

All this comes amid resistance in the British parliament to the Brexit bill. It passed its initial hurdle in the House of Commons, but MPs rejected the government’s accelerated timetable.

Boris Johnson has offered more time for parliament time to examine the legislation – but only if MPs back his call for the country to go to the polls.

Read more:

What derailed Boris Johnson's EU divorce bill – and is it dead?

Brexit: Is Boris Johnson telling the truth about Northern Ireland border checks?

Brexit Guide: Where are we now?

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