Could a general election break the Brexit deadlock?

Protesters make their point over Brexit as a general election looms
Protesters make their point over Brexit as a general election looms
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Boris Johnson has said he wants to call an early election to break the Brexit deadlock in Parliament, citing is as "the only way the country can move on" from the impasse.

The Prime Minister introduced the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to Parliament but, in a vote on Tuesday, MPs rejected his plans to fast-track it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson

This means it is unlikely the Brexit deal legislation will complete its passage through Parliament before the 31 October deadline and increases the chances of another Brexit delay.

READ MORE: Uproar as Boris Johnson says Scottish Parliament has 'no role' in approving Brexit legislation
He said if the EU delays Brexit until 31 January, he could abandon the bill altogether and try to hold an election before Christmas.

Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act - the law that dictates the UK election schedule - the next vote is not due to take place until May 2022.

Why would it make a difference to Brexit?

For a Government to be effective it needs to be able to pass legislation in the House of Commons.

During the 2017 election, Theresa May lost the Conservative majority in Parliament, forcing her to rely on a "confidence and supply" arrangement with the DUP.

This mean the party's ten MPs agreed to vote with the Government on crucial issues to ensure bills would not be held up in the Commons.

She ran into trouble, however, when it came to trying to pass her Brexit deal as the DUP would not support it.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon 'very happy' to have general election before Christmas
Mr Johnson now faces the same problem, but it has been made worse by his decision to withdraw the whip from a group of Tory MPs who did not support his no-deal Brexit strategy.

If every opposition MP voted against the Government it would lose by 45 votes.

Mr Johnson wants an election to try and win back the party's majority in the Commons, which would make it easier for him to pass a Brexit deal and any relevant legislation.

Would Boris Johnson actually win more votes?

It is extremely hard to predict what the outcome of an election would be partly due to the fragility of poll analysis and, not least, because of the volatile state of politics at the moment.

As reported recently, more than 50 per cent of voters are now considered to be 'floating voters', meaning they would not remain loyal to one particular party and would consider changing their vote.

And we have hopefully learnt our lesson from the 2017 election before which the majority of pollsters predicted an outright win for the Conservatives.

Mr Johnson is no doubt buoyed by the fact the main polling companies - YouGov, Opinium and ComRes - are all predicting a lead for the Conservatives, although to varying extents.

It seems as likely as can be that Mr Johnson will win more votes than any other party, but it is by no means a surety that he will win an outright Commons majority,

This could leave him in the same situation as Mrs May was following the 2017 poll or pave the way for some kind of coalition government of all the opposition parties - led by Labour.

When could it happen?

First MPs would have to vote for an election, either by supporting a Government motion or by voting down the Prime Minister in a vote of no confidence.

Opposition MPs have said they would not trigger an election until after the 31 October Brexit date has passed - to ensure that Mr Johnson cannot somehow push for a no deal.

Once an election is called, there would then be a gap of at least five weeks before polling day because the law requires Parliament to dissolve 25 working days before the election.

This timetable dictates that if an election was called next week it would be held during the first week of December.

If Mr Johnson cannot secure support for an election by next week, however, he could be facing another challenge regarding the logistics of holding an election during the festive period when town halls are booked up with events.

The nearer an election gets to Christmas, the harder it becomes to use local buildings due to calender's being filled with parties, pantomimes and rehearsals.