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Brexit in January or second referendum: the UK election choice

LONDON (Reuters) - The Dec. 12 election will decide whether the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in January or moves toward another EU referendum.

Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to deliver Brexit on Jan. 31. Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has promised a referendum.

Results are due in the early hours of Dec. 13. Here are the most likely scenarios:

JOHNSON WINS MAJORITY, BREXIT IN JANUARY

- Johnson wins a majority of 326 seats or more. The threshold could be slightly lower depending on how smaller parties perform.

- This will enable Johnson to pass the Brexit deal he negotiated with Brussels earlier this year through parliament and Britain will leave the EU at the end of January.

- Once Britain has left the bloc, it enters a transition period during which much of the status quo of its relationship with the EU is maintained. This period is due to last until the end of December 2020.

- This period will be used to negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU that will define the relationship between the world’s fifth largest economy and its largest trading partner.

- Johnson says he will not extend the transition period. Some fear this could mean that it ends without a deal, abruptly severing trading arrangements.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to activists and supporters as he poses for a photograph at the Conservative Campaign Headquarters Call Centre in central London, Britain, December 8, 2019. Ben Stansall/Pool via REUTERS

- The Conservatives have promised a budget in February, to introduce a new immigration system and begin higher spending on infrastructure, financed by increased borrowing.

JOHNSON FALLS SHORT, SECOND REFERENDUM LIKELY

- If Johnson falls short of an outright majority, Britain will have a ‘hung parliament’ in which no party is able to command a majority.

- This leaves parties looking to build alliances. Johnson gets first move. He can try to form a government or resign.

- A government would need to prove it can win a vote in parliament.

- Johnson does not have obvious allies in parliament.

- If he resigns, Corbyn would be expected to try to form a government.

- Corbyn may be able to persuade the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats to either back him in a confidence vote or not vote against him.

- The SNP want a second referendum on Scottish independence.

- If Corbyn is able to form a government, smaller parties are likely to coalesce around holding a second EU membership referendum. Labour says this should be a choice between a new Brexit deal, negotiated by Corbyn, or remaining in the EU.

- Corbyn says he wants to negotiate this new deal in three months and put it to a referendum in six months. He has said he would remain neutral in a second referendum.

- Because Corbyn is unlikely to get the support of smaller parties for his economic reforms, he could choose to call another election once Brexit has been resolved, in search of a Labour majority.

JOHNSON LOSES MAJORITY BUT RETAINS POWER

- If Johnson falls short of a majority, he may try to keep hold of power by cutting deals with opponents.

- While there are no obvious allies for him based on his position on Brexit, he may decide another term in office is worth the reputational damage of breaking his promise to deliver Brexit in January.

LABOUR WINS MAJORITY

- If Labour upsets expectations and wins a majority it will have free reign to call a second referendum and begin its program of radical economic reform.

- In its first 100 days, the party says it will present a budget to end austerity, start nationalizing industries like rail and water and begin investing in infrastructure projects.

Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Janet Lawrence

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