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UK govt schedules new vote for Monday on snap election

British PM's initial attempt at snap poll rejected by MPs, his brother also quits over Brexit

LONDON : British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government said yesterday it would make a second attempt next week to call an early general election to try to break the political deadlock over Brexit.

The day after MPs rejected the first attempt to call a snap poll, senior minister Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs he would put forward a "motion relating to an early parliamentary election" to be voted on next Monday.

On Wednesday evening, the government failed in its bid to call an election despite winning a vote in the House of Commons, because it was made under a 2011 law that requires the support of two-thirds of MPs.

There is speculation that ministers could try to force an election via an alternative route, for example by introducing a short piece of legislation that would require only a simple majority of MPs to pass.

Mr Johnson called the election after MPs approved a Bill that could undermine his threat to leave the European Union on Oct 31 without agreeing exit terms.

The main opposition Labour Party abstained in Wednesday's vote, saying it would not support an election until the Bill blocking a "no-deal" Brexit was approved.

The Bill is currently being debated in the unelected upper House of Lords but is expected to become law by Monday.

Government sources say they hope Labour would at that point back an election. But Labour is divided over the timing of any poll.

Mr Johnson wants a public vote before an EU summit on Oct 17, which could be the last chance to get a Brexit deal before Oct 31.

But some in Labour want an election after Oct 31, which would mean Mr Johnson would have been forced to delay Brexit.

In a related development, Mr Johnson's younger brother, Mr Jo Johnson, resigned as a junior minister yesterday and said he would also step down as a lawmaker, citing a conflict between family loyalty and national interest.

Mr Jo Johnson, 47, who voted "remain" in 2016, has previously expressed backing for a second referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU.

He nevertheless accepted a job as a junior minister in the business and education departments when his brother became prime minister, but he quit that post yesterday with what was seen as a parting shot at his brother.

The opposition Labour Party seized on the resignation, saying it underlined a lack of trust in the prime minister. - AFP, REUTERS

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