Read this if you’re confused by what’s happening in British politics right now

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  • What's a snap election? Are we going to have a general election? And how likely is a no-deal Brexit?

    It’s impossible not to feel out of your depth at the mention of British politics right now and if you don’t have a clue what’s going on, don’t worry about it.

    It’s not you, it’s them.

    A few years ago, all we had to comprehend was a potential (but seemingly unlikely) Brexit. Now, given that it’s fallen on new Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s shoulders and he wants the UK to leave the EU by October 31st with or without a deal, it has got a lot more complicated – especially given the fact that the majority of parliament doesn’t agree with him.

    Everything is a mess – there’s no two ways about it, with MPs switching between political parties, the Prime Minister controversially choosing to suspend Parliament, calls for a general election and a rebellion in the house of Commons.

    ‘Determined to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31 “come what may,” Mr. Johnson has become increasingly ruthless, exacerbating existing frictions within his party over Britain’s exit from the European Union,’ a New York Times article reported of the situation. ‘Since taking office in July, Mr. Johnson has purged cabinet ministers and ordered a five-week suspension of parliament as a tactic to limit its ability to challenge his plan to leave the European bloc with or without a deal.’

    But what is a no-deal Brexit, what does a snap election mean and why have Boris Johnson’s opponents turned down a general election?

    We answer the questions you need to know to navigate the minefield that is 2019 politics…

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    We're starting this week with some exclusive photos of Members of the House of Lords debating the EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Lords Chamber last week. The House of Lords third reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill ended on Friday, and now as both Houses of Parliament have agreed the final text, the Bill now proceeds to royal assent. When Royal Assent has been given to a Bill, the announcement is usually made in both Houses – at a suitable break in each House’s proceedings – by the Lord Speaker in the Lords and the Speaker in the Commons. At prorogation (the formal end to a parliamentary year), Black Rod interrupts the proceedings of the Commons and summons MPs to the Lords Chamber to hear the Lords Commissioners announce Royal Assent for each Bill. #UKParliament #HouseofLords #Brexit

    A post shared by UK Parliament (@ukparliament) on

    Why did Boris Johnson suspend parliament?

    Boris Johnson announced in September that he was suspending parliament for over a month, with the prorogation taking place last week.

    The Prime Minister has shut down parliament for a five week period, re-opening on October 14. And while parliament was due to shut anyway for party conference season, the extended suspension has proven divisive, with people accusing the PM of shutting down the debate in order to pass a no-deal Brexit.

    Boris has used the preparations for the new Queen’s Speech as his reasons for the prorogation.

    What is prorogation?

    The word ‘prorogation’ has been circling the internet in news stories and petitions, but what does it actually mean? Proroguing parliament means suspending parliament. It is the formal name given to the time period between the end of a Parliament session and the State Opening of Parliament that starts the next session, but according to the UK Parliament website, ‘the parliamentary session may also be prorogued before Parliament is dissolved.’

    What is a no-deal Brexit?

    A no-deal Brexit is a possibility, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing that he was committed to delivering Brexit on October 31st, with or without a deal. But what does the term ‘no-deal Brexit’ actually mean?

    A no-deal Brexit essentially means the UK would leave Europe without making any agreements on trade, tariffs, the justice system etc. The divorce process would therefore be more immediate as there would be no agreements to be made but most economists believe that this could lead to economic harm, with the Office for Budget Responsibility predicting that a no-deal Brexit would cause a UK recession.

    Other no-deal fears include less food available and big price increases.

    What is a snap election?

    A snap election is – to put it simply – an early election, where the vote is called for earlier than it’s scheduled by the Prime Minister.

    UK general elections are held every five years, with our next scheduled for 5 May 2020. Any election called before this date would therefore be a snap election.

    The reasons for holding a snap election can vary but according to history, it tends to be to tactical – attempting to take back control, win back a majority and break the deadlocks that are stopping Parliament from passing certain laws.

    ‘I don’t want an election and you don’t want an election,’ Boris Johnson announced before he called for one, claiming that it was to avoid another ‘pointless’ Brexit delay.

    His bid was blocked by MPs.

    Why did Boris Johnson’s opponents turn down a snap election?

    Boris Johnson put forward the General Election Bill (his bid to trigger a general election), but it was blocked by MPs. While some were confused that opponents would turn down the opportunity to take him on in a general election, it seems that it’s a tactical decision so as not to give Boris full control.

    ‘Let the Bill pass and have Royal Assent and then we can have a general election,’ Jeremy Corbyn responded to Boris Johnson’s bid, likening the snap election offer to ‘the offer of a poisoned apple to Snow White by a wicked queen’.

    The Labour leader insists that Britain should only go forward with a general election once the potential of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ is taken off the table.

    How likely is a snap election?

    A snap election does seem likely, with a lot of the MPs who blocked the bid insisting that they are not against an election and that it’s just the timing that is the problem.

    ‘My own preference at the moment is later rather than sooner,’ Labour MP John McDonnell explained of why Labour didn’t support the motion to trigger an early general election. ‘It’s all about the security of preventing a no deal Brexit.’

    There is a want for a general election however, with Corby reported to have said, ‘We want an election as we look forward to turfing this Government out’.


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