By the end of the day tomorrow, we will know if Boris Johnson is going to get the 2019 election he craves. Minutes ago he responded to the government’s failure to get the two thirds vote necessary for an election under tonight’s Fixed-term Parliament Act motion by saying that the government would present a bill legislating for an election on the 12 December.
Now, this is not the date that the Lib Dems and the SNP wanted – they were pushing for the 9th – but he is acceding to one of their key demands: the government won’t try and bring the Withdrawal Agreement Bill back if this legislation goes through. This meets the criterion that the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford set out in his point of order responding to Boris Johnson this evening. It looks like the Lib Dems are less keen on an election on that Thursday. But if you add the SNP’s 35 MPs to the 299 votes that the government got tonight you do have a majority.
The question now becomes if this election bill can come out of Parliament clean. If it changed the franchise – giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, for example – or was amended in other ways, I suspect the government would not proceed with it. But tonight for the first time in a while it looks odds-on that Boris Johnson will get the election he wants.