Campaigning for the general election will officially launch on 6 November in the wake of Parliament passing a bill approving a 12 December vote.
“Today should have been the day that Brexit was delivered and we finally left the EU”, Johnson said in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
“But despite the great new deal I agreed with the EU, Jeremy Corbyn refused to allow that to happen - insisting upon more dither, more delay and more uncertainty for families and business”, the prime minister stressed.
Johnson promised that the UK would leave the European Union on 31 October, and even said he’d “rather be dead in a ditch” but things didn’t go as he planned. He’s still alive, the EU granted the UK a 3-month extension until 31 January 2020, and he will now have to campaign hard in an election he never wanted, but as he said in Parliament “it is the only way forward”.
This election will test both the Tories and Labour and will be fought predominantly on one issue - Brexit. And that’s where, according to Chris Stafford, a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham in the Politics and International Relations Department, Johnson has an advantage.
“The poll figures look good for Johnson at the moment, but this is likely to be a hard-fought election and nothing can be taken for granted”, Stafford said.
But despite the Labour Party being “weak” on Brexit, if they “can convince voters to support their vision of the future, Johnson may struggle to get a majority. The future of Brexit and the party system itself hang in the balance”, the researcher pointed out.
“Although it looks like the election will de facto be another referendum on Brexit, it is important to remember that the UK is a first-past-the-post system where a popular vote doesn't always translate into winning a majority of seats”, Dr Roslyn Fuller, director of the Solonian Democracy Institute in Dublin and author of “Beasts and Gods” stated.
“Leave and Remain votes will play into it in a rather skewed way - although probably to the benefit of Leave, given that Remain tends to be concentrated in Scotland and London. In addition, other factors will come into play, including personal loyalty to some of the more long-standing MPs and their ability to put together a good campaign on the ground”, Dr Fuller explained.
The Tories now have to make the call on whether they want to form an alliance with the Brexit Party. It would put them in a strong position but may hurt the Brexit Party, the author said.
“As a largely single-issue party without seasoned candidates, the Brexit Party is vulnerable to having their vote absorbed by the Conservatives (note that the overtures are coming from their side) - especially since the incentive to vote tactically in this election is unusually high”.
On the other hand, while going it alone would save the Conservatives of having to compromise with the Brexit Party, it all depends on how the vote will go.
“If the Conservatives cannot absorb the Brexit Party vote then the Brexit Party has the potential to be the Tories' best friend (via a pact) or worst enemy - bringing them a lot of votes or taking them away”, Dr Fuller said.
The Brexit Party has shown that it can win as the anger over failing to deliver mounts among people as it did during the European elections this May.
“If it can repeat its past performances the Brexit Party has the potential to take 4-5 million votes. Even if they only achieve half that number, if they take those votes from the Tories it could be the difference between winning and losing a lot of seats, as some seats are only one by a few hundred or thousand votes”, Dr Fuller added.
And when it comes to Labour, “a lot depends on being able to make this election about any issues other than Brexit”, the author concluded.