Britain looks set for an early election in attempt to break Brexit deadlock

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By Alexander Smith  with NBC News World News
Anti-Brexit remain in the European Union supporter Steve Bray, left, protes
Anti-Brexit activist stands by Parliament in London.   -  Copyright  Matt Dunham

LONDON — The United Kingdom looks to be heading for an early general election days before Christmas, the latest attempt to break the country's Brexit deadlock.

The House of Commons is set to vote Tuesday night on whether to hold an early ballot in mid-December — which would be the country's first general election in that month in almost 100 years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants an early election but does not have enough parliamentary power to sign off on this alone. Hours before the pivotal vote in Parliament, the the opposition Labour Party said it would be supporting the bill, meaning it looks very likely to pass.

"We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen," Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told a meeting of senior lawmakers, according to a party statement.

Whether an election will be enough to break the paralysis, chaos and uncertainty that is gripping British politics remains to be seen. What's clear is the central campaign issue will be Brexit.

The prime minister says he wants to leave the E.U. as soon as possible and has negotiated his own divorce deal with European negotiators. However many lawmakers — including some within his own party — fear his plan is too hardline.

He was forced into a major concession this week after failing to pass his deal in Parliament by Oct. 31. He was forced to ask for an extension to the deadline, which has now been pushed back three months.

Johnson's Conservative Party leads the polls by as much as 16 percentage points.

The Labour Party says it wants to negotiate its own deal and put this back to the people in a second referendum. Others such as the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalist Party want to cancel Brexit altogether.

British elections are usually held every five years and in the spring. If approved this election would be the second inside three years, and the first held in December since 1923.