British voters are headed to the polls today in a pivotal snap election that could unblock deadlock over Brexit.
The Conservatives are hoping for a big majority so they can get their EU divorce deal through parliament. But if Boris Johnson’s party get fewer than 320 votes, it opens the door to a coalition opposition government.
Let's look where each party stands on Brexit.
Leader: Boris Johnson | Slogan: “Get Brexit done”
Less than four years ago, the Conservatives were committed to keeping Britain in the European Union — but on renegotiated terms backed by a confirmatory referendum.
Two leaders, a disastrous election and several cabinet reshuffles later, the party is firmly behind Brexit.
Boris Johnson wants to leave the EU under the revised deal he agreed earlier this month.
The prime minister, who took over from Theresa May at the end of July, has repeatedly promised that the UK will leave Europe on October 31, "do or die" — but that deadline has flown past without success.
European integration has been a fault line through the Conservatives for decades, but Brexit has blown the party wide open. Twenty-one of its MPs, including several former cabinet ministers and Winston Churchill’s grandson, were expelled in September failing to follow the government's line on Brexit; only ten have been allowed back to fight in this election.
As well as a pledge to (somehow) “get Brexit done”, it is expected to promise more police — replacing officers cut under its own 2010-2015 government — and money for the NHS.
Leader: Jeremy Corbyn | Slogan: “It’s time for real change”
After months of prevarication over Brexit, Labour has coalesced around a pledge to renegotiate Johnson's deal and put the new one to a second public vote.
“A Labour government will negotiate a sensible deal within three months of being elected,” the party promised at its manifesto
launch on Thursday. “It will be based on the things we have long advocated and discussed with the EU; trade unions and businesses, including a new customs union, a close single market relationship and guarantees of rights and protections.”
It adds: “Labour is the only party that can and will deliver a public vote. Labour trusts the people to decide.”
(Corbyn has not indicated which way he would himself vote).
Labour has also been divided by Brexit, with some members fearing an electoral threat from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party unless it commits to implementing the result of the 2016 referendum. Others in the party say it risks losing centrist, pro-EU voters to the explicitly anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats.
The party will be more confident away from Brexit and on core domestic issues such as poverty, low pay and renationalising public utilities, and is likely to harness opposition to Boris Johnson and his right-wing cabinet.
Leader: Jo Swinson | Slogan: “Stop Brexit, build a brighter future.”
After electoral annihilation in 2015, the party has seized upon its explicitly anti-Brexit message to win back votes from Remainers.
Its clear pledge to cancel Brexit altogether by revoking Article 50 has stood in contrast to the ambiguous position of the other main parties.
A string of local and by-election victories has given the Liberal Democrats a springboard to recover lost ground, with some polls suggesting the party is poised to overtake Labour into second place in many parts of England.
If the party doesn’t win a majority, it would support a second referendum.
Swinson has said she is open to electoral pacts with the nationalist parties in Scotland and Wales to leave some constituencies uncontested in order to avoid splitting the Remain vote.
Scottish National Party
Leader: Nicola Sturgeon | Slogan: “It's time to choose our own future”
The Scottish National Party is anti-Brexit — reflecting Scotland’s pro-Remain vote in the 2016 referendum — and has been campaigning for a second vote on Brexit to avoid leaving the EU.
It sees an opportunity to harness anger in Scotland at the prospect of leaving the EU; if Brexit goes ahead, it is likely to press quickly for another independence referendum with the ultimate aim of an independent Scotland rejoining the EU.
But while its Brexit message is popular, the SNP may face a tough fight in parts of Scotland where the Liberal Democrats or Conservatives are strong and has struggled over areas of its performance in Scotland's government.
Leader: Nigel Farage | Slogan: “Change politics for good”
The Brexit Party
, formed from the wreckage of the imploding UKIP, wants the UK to leave the EU without a deal in a "clean-break Brexit".
It was vehemently opposed to Theresa May’s agreement and says Johnson’s version still doesn’t go far enough.
In particular, it would still involve paying the EU a multi-billion divorce settlement.
Farage, who is expected to set out the party’s plan on Friday, has indicated willingness to form an electoral pact with the Conservatives to try to avoid splitting the Brexit vote — but only if Johnson commits to a no-deal Brexit, which seems unlikely.
With significant support among Britain’s core Brexit voters, the party could, like the Liberal Democrats, prove crucial to the December 12 result.
The Independent Group for Change
Leader: Anna Soubry
This party began life earlier this year as Change UK, a refuge for pro-EU Conservative and Labour MPs who quit their party over Brexit. It has since changed its name and lost a few MPs to the Liberal Democrats.
Leaders: Jonathan Bartley & Siân Berry | Slogan: “Standing with you for a People's Vote.”
The pro-EU party's solitary MP, Caroline Lucas, has been a vocal campaigner for another second Brexit referendum. But the party remains focused on green issues, with Brexit barely mentioned on its homepage.
Polls have opened at 8 am CET and will close at 11 pm, with exit polls due out shortly afterwards. They are based on interviews carried out with voters outside polling stations, whereas opinion polls ask people who they intend to back in the election.
Official results are then announced by constituencies across the country, with a winner expected to be declared in the early hours of Friday.