United Kingdom votes to decide the fate of Brexit, again

A man is shown wearing a red and white Santa Claus hat and standing next to a white sign with the words 'polling station' printed on it.

Voters went to the polls Thursday in an election that will pave the way for Brexit under Prime Minister Boris Johnson or propel Britain toward another referendum that could ultimately reverse the decision to leave the European Union.

After failing to deliver Brexit by an Oct. 31 deadline, Johnson called the election to break what he cast as political paralysis that had thwarted Britain's departure and sapped confidence in the economy.

The face of the "Leave" campaign in the 2016 referendum, 55-year-old Johnson fought the election under the slogan of "Get Brexit Done," promising to end the deadlock and spend more on health, education and the police.

His main opponent, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, 70, promised higher public spending, nationalization of key services, taxes on the wealthy and another referendum on Brexit.

All major opinion polls suggest Johnson will win, though pollsters got the 2016 referendum wrong and their models predict outcomes ranging from a hung parliament to the biggest Conservative landslide since the era of Margaret Thatcher.

Along the way, Britain's election campaign has delivered funny, strange and surreal moments, from Johnson's Brexit-branded boxing to a stranded train full of journalists on their way to a speech about rail investment.   

Here are some the highlights from six weeks of cross-country campaigning:

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson is shown wearing blue boxing gloves with the words "Get Brexit Done" printed on them.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson poses for a photo wearing boxing gloves during a stop on the campaign trail in Manchester, Britain, Nov. 19, 2019.


Frank Augstein/Pool via Reuters

Delivering the message

What do a doughnut, a digger, boxing gloves and a scarf have in common? All have been printed, painted, woven or iced with the Conservative election slogan "Get Brexit Done."

It is not unusual for political parties to come up with one or two central campaign messages and plaster them across lecterns, placards and buses.

But while Labour's "Time for real change" and "For the many, not the few" slogans have appeared in the usual places, Johnson's Conservatives have gone to greater lengths to try and ensure their message gets through.

On a whistle-stop final day of campaigning Johnson added a few more to the list: A branded apron worn while making a pie and a milk crate used to make a delivery to a voter's house.

Government borrowing up

Johnson's efforts to stimulate the economy in the English city of Salisbury ran out of cash.

Touring local businesses at a Christmas market, Johnson visited a butcher and helped out at one stall, serving up sweets in front of the cameras.

But the prime minister, whose Conservatives have cast themselves as the party of fiscal discipline, came unstuck when he tried to pay for chocolate brownies.

Fumbling through his wallet, Johnson had to ask his team for a loan. "I'm out of cash" he said. "I lashed out on some sausages earlier on and it cleaned me out!"

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is shown standing a microphone wearing a large red ribbon and holding a red book.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn speaks during a final general election campaign event in London, Britain, Dec. 11, 2019.


Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Corbyn's little red book

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, carries a little red book with him all over the country.

Not the collection of quotations from communist leader Mao Zedong — once brandished in parliament by Corbyn's would-be finance minister — but a handwritten diary of knowledge he has picked up on the election trail.

"The wisdom that is there amongst people all over the country is something that absolutely inspires me, I go around with a notebook everywhere," he said during a television interview.

His interviewer on chat show 'This Morning' asked: "What are you going to write about us?"

He replied: "What a charming morning I am having, what wonderful Christmas decorations you’ve got."

The case for rail investment

British finance minister Sajid Javid tore up the spending rules by promising to pump billions into upgrading the country's schools, hospitals, roads and railways.

Shortly before his speech was due to start, word went around from a Conservative Party official that the start of the event in the northern English city of Manchester would have to be delayed — problems on the railway had left the traveling press pack stranded miles from the venue.

Signed, sealed ... delivered?

When is a manifesto not a manifesto? Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage says it is when it's a "contract with the people."

Farage eschewed the campaign tradition of a manifesto launch, a glitzy media event to promote a book of policies the party wants to implement if it wins power.

Instead, he invited journalists, left a small book of his policies on each seat and made a grand entrance to a thumping soundtrack ("Power" by Kanye West).

"This is not a manifesto, because a word association test for manifesto gave us the word 'lies'," he said. "It's a contract with the people."

by Reuters

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