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November 4, 2019

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UK election battle heats up, Brexit dominates

Britain’s election campaign heated up yesterday even before it officially started, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he would apologize to Conservatives for failing to take the UK out of the European Union by October 31 and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage saying he won’t personally run for a seat in Parliament.

Johnson’s promise to have Britain leave the bloc by October 31 had been his central platform in the party leadership competition that brought him to power in July.

He told Sky News yesterday that it was a matter of “deep regret” that he failed to do so. Asked if he was sorry about missing the deadline, Johnson said: “Yes, absolutely.”

Johnson’s plan to leave by October 31 with or without a divorce deal was blocked by Parliament, which required him to seek a delay.

The EU has granted a three-month Brexit extension until January 31.

Johnson pushed hard for the early national election on December 12 in which he hopes to get a more Brexit-friendly Parliament.

Farage, one of Johnson’s political rivals, has pushed for his one-theme party to team up in a coalition with Johnson’s Conservatives for the December election but the prime minister has refused the offer.

The two parties are both vying for Brexit-backing voters.

While the Conservatives have a wide lead in most opinion polls, analysts say the election is unpredictable because Brexit cuts across traditional party loyalties.

The opposition Labour party is trying to shift the campaign focus from Brexit to domestic political issues such as schools, health care and social inequities. Labour is vulnerable over Brexit because it divides the party.


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