The election will be the first to take place in December since 1923Recal Media

On Tuesday evening MPs voted by 438 votes to 20 to call an election. The election will take place on 12th December, subject to the highly probable approval by the House of Lords, making it the first election to take place in December since 1923.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has been demanding an election for a number of weeks and has previously been denied three times by an unwilling parliament, which must pass a bill calling an election in order for one to be held.

An amendment, proposed by Labour, and supported by the opposition parties, sought to move the date of the election to 9th December. This, they argued, would make participation by university students more likely since it would still be in term time. However, the amendment was defeated.

Why has an election been called?

The election is a way for Boris Johnson to try and “get Brexit done”. In his eyes Parliament have been frustrating his attempts to enact the Referendum result and he therefore hopes an election will give him the mandate to leave on his terms. Labour, on the other hand, hope that they can run a campaign similar to 2017 and direct the national conversation towards the economy and the impacts of austerity.

The Conservatives have been in favour of an election since Parliament legislated against a No Deal Brexit in September. The opposition, however, have been wary of calling one for fear that Britain would crash out of the EU during the campaign. Now that an extension has been agreed to by Brussels, keeping Britain in the EU until 31st January 2020, most opposition MPs have decided to support an election.

There is, however, concern amongst MPs of all parties about the election’s possible results. Many Labour MPs feel that a Second Referendum should be held before any possible election, a key reason why more than 100 Labour MPs abstained while 11 voted against the motion. This included prominent pro-remain campaigners, such as David Lammy and Margaret Becket, and Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner.

All Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs abstained from the motion in protest at the failure of the amendment moving the election date to 9th December. However, like Labour MPs, many of them are concerned about the prospect of an election before a Second Referendum has been held.

What is the national picture?

This election promises to be an unpredictable one, with five parties hoping to make gains across the country. A BBC poll tracker put the Conservatives ahead by 12 points on 36% as of October 30th. They have been consistently ahead since the middle of August and the lead has only grown since then.

The poll places Labour in second place with 24%, having remained quite steady since July. Likewise, the Liberal Democrats have been hovering around 20% since July, although they have dropped to 18% since their conference highpoint. The Brexit party have been falling in the polls for the same amount of time that the Conservatives have been rising, leaving them on only 11% while the Greens are far behind on just 4%.

This early on in the campaign however, these numbers arguably mean little; Theresa May had a lead twice as big going into the 2017 elections which saw the Conservatives lose 13 seats and ended in a Hung Parliament.

Regardless of which parries lose or gains seats, Parliament will see an influx of new MPs, as over 50 incumbents have announced that they will be standing down rather than seeking re-election. Among those who have made this decision are culture secretary Nicky Morgan, Speaker John Bercow, Father of the House Ken Clarke and South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen.

What might this mean for Cambridge?

Since 2015 the Cambridge seat has been held by the Labour MP Daniel Zeichner. He was re-elected in 2017 with over 50% of the vote, a big increase from his share in 2015 when he defeated the Liberal Democrat candidate by only 600 votes.

Recent polling by Survation puts the Liberal Democrats ahead on 39% as of 29th October. It registered a substantial decrease in support for Labour who have slipped to 30%. The other parties are all significantly further behind with the Greens next on 12%, showing a 10% increase from their performance at the last election.

Thus far only three parties have announced their candidates. The incumbent, Daniel Zeichner, will continue to be the Labour candidate, having served as candidate since 2010, and the Liberal Democrats have a new candidate in Rod Cantrill, who is the Councillor for the Newnham district of Cambridge. Peter Dawe, who sparred with Cantril in a recent hustings at Selwyn, will be the candidate for the Brexit party, which scored only 7% in the Survation poll.

How can I register to vote?

British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens who are 18 or over on election day are eligible to vote in this election. British citizens living abroad may also vote, either by post or by proxy (take note, MML and AMES students).

You can be registered at both your university and home addresses, however, unlike in local elections, you can only vote in one constituency. As the election takes place outside of term time, it may be worth considering where you’re registered, where you’ll be on 12th December and whether you’d prefer to vote in Cambridge or at home.

You don’t need to re-register for every election, but you do need to re-register if you’ve changed address (for example, by moving to University), or if you’ve changed your name. If you registered to vote in the local elections that took place earlier this year in Cambridge, it’s likely that you won’t need to re-register, but it’s worth checking by getting in touch with Cambridge’s Electoral Registration Office.

You can register simply online using your National Insurance number. The deadline for registration is midnight on Tuesday 26th November.

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