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British voters are set to decide the fate of Brexit after parliament backed a general election on December 12 that is likely to be the most momentous for a generation.

An election bill passed by 438 to 20 MPs succeeded in doing what the complex issues surrounding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union have singularly failed to do during more than two divisive years of wrangling - unite all the main parties.

The leaders of the country's two largest parties - Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn - welcomed the move, but the stakes for both could not be higher.

“This is a high-risk strategy for Boris Johnson in keeping with the whole of his premiership, which has been high-stakes poker - and hasn’t worked out particularly well for him so far,” said Mark Shanahan, head of the department of politics and international relations at the University of Reading.

The fate of Brexit could now be in the balance as the UK’s political parties gear up for a rare winter campaign - an election has not been held in December since 1923 - to decide the country’s direction for generations to come.

David Jeffrey, a lecturer in British politics at the University of Liverpool, said: “If the Conservatives lose this then the path to a second referendum on Brexit is wide open, which it is easily imaginable that the ‘Leave’ vote would lose - and then where are we?”

Parliament’s decision to back a December poll follows pressure from Johnson to go to the electorate as part of his strategy to ensure Britain’s departure from the EU.

MPs had thwarted his election call three times, believing it to be an attempt by his hardline supporters to engineer a “no-deal” Brexit that economists say would be disastrous for the country.

At the weekend, however, the Liberal Democrat and Scottish National parties broke ranks to back a poll.

Both see this as an effort to change the parliamentary arithmetic in a way that could result in support for a second referendum - with Labour reluctantly falling into line when it became clear that Johnson would get his wish.

aljazeera

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