Jeremy Corbyn today finally gave his backing to a general election taking place before Christmas as all the major parties agreed a snap poll is the only way to break the Brexit deadlock.
Boris Johnson tried and failed to force an early election for the third time yesterday as Labour blocked the Prime Minister’s plans.
But less than 24 hours later Mr Corbyn performed a screeching U-turn as he said his pre-conditions for supporting an election had now been met.
However, while the Tories, Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP are now united in saying they want there to be an election there is still a major row rumbling over precisely when the nation should go to the polls.
Mr Johnson has suggested an election date of December 12 while Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats and the SNP want December 9.
Labour is yet to formally commit to a specific date but it is thought it is unlikely that Mr Corbyn will support Mr Johnson’s proposed way forward.
Mr Johnson will ask MPs to vote for an election for the fourth time this afternoon with the debate in the House of Commons likely to be dominated by wrangling over the date.
Agreeing a polling day is now the only hurdle to the first December general election since 1923.
Below are all the answers to all the key questions as the UK prepares for its third general election in five years.
Jeremy Corbyn, pictured leaving his London home today, told the shadow cabinet this morning that Labour will now support an early election
What day will a general election be held and what is happening today?
A short piece of legislation is being put before MPs this afternoon that would trigger an election on December 12 – although the date is still being argued over.
Mr Johnson has already met the main demands of the SNP and Lib Dems by accepting that his Brexit deal will be shelved until after an election.
However, the smaller parties want the date to be December 9.
They are concerned that leaving it later would mean many university students have gone home – and might not be registered in the right place to vote.
They are also nervous that Mr Johnson might do a U-turn and decide to try to bring back the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
A Number 10 source floated a compromise this morning as they suggested a possible date of December 11.
But ministers have said the earlier timetable is not possible because the election bill would have had to have gone through both the Commons and the House of Lords and received royal assent by the end of Thursday – an incredibly tight turnaround.
What does this mean for Brexit?
The EU yesterday granted the UK a three month delay, making time for an election to take place.
If MPs vote today for a snap poll then the Brexit process will effectively be paused until a new batch of MPs has been elected.
If Mr Johnson wins a majority at the election he will proceed with his Brexit deal. If Mr Corbyn wins a majority he would hold a second referendum.
If Ms Swinson wins a majority she would revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit.
What has Jeremy Corbyn said today and why has he changed his mind?
Yesterday Mr Corbyn outlined his opposition to a poll on December 12 as he said that ‘in parts of the country it will be dark before 4pm’ while ‘many students will have just finished their terms and gone home for Christmas’.
But he hinted the party could sign up to a slightly earlier date of December 9. He then instructed Labour MPs to abstain on a vote calling for an election on December 12.
Mr Johnson needed to win the support of two thirds of MPs to succeed – 434 – but he only secured the backing of 299.
Mr Corbyn then changed his mind this morning as he told the shadow cabinet that Labour would now support an election on the basis that a No Deal Brexit had been ruled out for the next three months.
He said: ‘I have consistently said that we are ready for an election and our support is subject to a No Deal Brexit being off the table.
‘We have now heard from the EU that the extension of Article 50 to 31st January has been confirmed, so for the next three months, our condition of taking No Deal off the table has now been met.
‘We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen.’
Boris Johnson, pictured in the Commons yesterday, will ask MPs to vote for an early election for the fourth time this afternoon
Mr Johnson wants an election to be held on December 12 but Jo Swinson favours a polling day of December 9
So is a general election definitely going to happen before Christmas?
Assuming that the four main parties can agree a date today then the answer is yes.
It would be astonishing if the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems and SNP all agree that they want an election only for the poll to fall apart due to a disagreement over a few days.
However, given the volatility of British politics and the levels of distrust between the parties it is possible.
Would the three extra days between December 9 and December 12 actually make much difference?
In the grand scheme of things, no. But there is some suggestion the Lib Dems and Labour would prefer an earlier poll because more students would be at university, potentially handing the opposition parties an advantage.
However many major universities finish for Christmas on Friday, December 13.
Ms Swinson is also concerned Mr Johnson could try to bring his Brexit Bill back and rush it through before polling day. But that was effectively ruled out by No 10.
Does Boris Johnson need the support of two thirds of MPs to trigger the election today?
No. The government’s three previous failed attempts to force an election were tabled under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.
That law dictates that those kinds of motions must secure the backing of two thirds of MPs to succeed.
But today the government is seeking support for a draft bill. Votes on legislation only require a simple majority to succeed.
Could amendments derail the election push?
The government has tried to make the election bill watertight to prevent MPs trying to add on proposals or requirements that could derail the legislation – like votes at 16.
Assuming the government’s tight drafting has been successful amendments are unlikely to be allowed.
What happened in the Commons last night?
MPs voted by 299 votes to 70 in favour of a general election on December 12, but failed to deliver the two thirds majority required under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
Labour abstained after Mr Corbyn issued a rambling explanation of why he was opposed to an election – including that it would be ‘too dark’. Mr Johnson accused him of ‘running away from the judgment of the people’.
What is Number 10’s view of all of this?
Downing Street sources suggested that the Prime Minister might be prepared to compromise, by suggesting a ‘range’ of dates were possible between December 9 and 12.
But a decision has to be made quickly. If the early election bill doesn’t get through the Commons today then the pre-Christmas election is effectively off.
Ministers cannot go any later than December 12 because they risk running into the Christmas period.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill has warned that December 12 is the latest possible date or the election would mean turfing pantomimes, parties and nativity plays out of village halls and schools used as polling stations.
What about the Brexit Withdrawal Bill?
No 10 says the legislation to take Britain out of the European Union is dead until after the election.
Sources suggested the Prime Minister would have been prepared to bring the Bill back this week if Labour pro-leave MPs agreed to back it through the Commons. Those assurances were not forthcoming.