Voters in Britain went to the polls in a general election today that will pave the way for Brexit under Prime Minister Boris Johnson or propel Britain towards another referendum that could ultimately reverse the decision to leave the European Union.
After failing to deliver Brexit so far, Johnson called the election to break what he cast as political paralysis thwarting Britain’s departure, eroding confidence in the economy. 55-year-old Johnson fought the election under the slogan of “Get Brexit Done”, promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn promised higher public spending, nationalisation of key services, taxes on the wealthy and another referendum on Brexit. All major opinion polls suggest Johnson will win, though pollsters got the 2016 referendum wrong and their models predict outcomes ranging from a hung parliament to a huge Conservative landslide.
Seven eve-of-election opinion polls showed the Conservatives ahead of Labour by an average of nearly ten points although Labour narrowed the gap in four of them. Polls will close at 10pm when an exit poll will give the first indications of the result.
A majority would allow Johnson to lead the country out of the EU it joined in 1973, but Brexit would be far from over. He must negotiate a trade agreement with the EU in a self-imposed deadline of 11 months.
The United Kingdom voted 52%-48% in 2016 to quit the EU. But parliament has been deadlocked since May’s failed bet on a 2017 snap election over how, when and even whether to leave.