London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday offered MPs more time to debate his Brexit Bill but only if they agree to a general election on December 12.
His latest announcement came soon after an urgent Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street and ahead of a confirmation from the European Union (EU) on whether it is open to an extension to the October 31 Brexit deadline, which is expected on Friday.
"The way to get Brexit done is, I think, to be reasonable with Parliament and say if they genuinely want more time to study this excellent deal, they can have it, but they have to agree to a General Election on 12 December," said Johnson. "It's time frankly that the Opposition summoned up the nerve to submit themselves to the judgement of our collective boss, which is the people of the UK."
Johnson had struck a renewed withdrawal agreement with the EU last week, which ditched the controversial Irish backstop clause, and went on in theory to find the backing of MPs in a vote 329 to 299 earlier this week.
But having lost the crucial fast-track timetable vote attached to it meant he lost out on his "do or die" pledge to get Brexit done by the end of October. Speculation had mounted around an early election since the Parliament vote on Tuesday.
All eyes are now on the EU to see what kind of an extension it offers. If it delays until the middle or end of November, Johnson will try to get his deal through Parliament again. But if the extension is longer until the end of January 2020, he will hold a Commons vote next week on a December 12 election.
Under the UK's Fixed Term Parliament Act, he would require the Parliament's backing for such an early election. And, given his lack of majority in Parliament, the prospect of such a bill passing through is not entirely certain.
"We would campaign day after day for the people of this country to be released from subjection to a Parliament that has outlived its usefulness," Johnson said, in reference to the prospect of his election bid failing to clear the Commons hurdle.
In a Twitter statement, he went on to release a letter to Opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn calling on him to end this nightmare and provide a solution.
"An election on 12 December will allow a new Parliament and government to be in place by Christmas It is time for MPs finally to take responsibility, he said in his letter.
The Labour Party has so far seemed divided on the issue of whether to give in to an early election within this year or push it for next year.