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U.K. Voters Head to Polls in Pivotal Election Shrouded by Brexit

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U.K. Voters Head to Polls in Pivotal Election Shrouded by Brexit Debate for the second time since the country opted to leave the European Union in a 2016 referendum.

U.K. Voters Head to Polls in Pivotal Election Shrouded by Brexit

U.K. Voters Head to Polls in Pivotal Election Shrouded by Brexit

More than three chaotic years of negotiations and delays later, the country’s future relationship with the bloc is hanging in the balance and the election could determine how, and if, the country breaks from the EU. No matter the outcome, the U.K. is expected to remain deeply divided.Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made his promise to “get Brexit done” the defining message of his campaign, though he was unable to get a renegotiated deal through Parliament this fall, leading to yet another postponement of the departure deadline.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has instead attempted to position issues with U.K.’s universal health care system, the National Health Service, at the center of the election. Corbyn says the Labour Party would up spending on the system and warns that Johnson may sign a trade deal with the U.S. that would badly affect it.

The two largest parties have drastically different visions for the future of the country: Johnson and his fellow Tories have campaigned on a merit-based immigration system, tougher policing and no tax increases.

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Corbyn’s Labour Party, on the other hand, vows to nationalize the country’s railways, water and energy companies and increase taxes on top earners.

Conservatives are expected to win a slim majority, though last-minute polling on Tuesday indicated that the election could also result in a hung parliament, meaning that no one party wins an outright majority. Should the Conservative Party win the most seats but fail to secure a majority, it does not have many allies to which it could turn in the hopes of forming a government.The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats are also expected to garner sizeable blocs of seats.

Neither Johnson nor Corbyn are well-liked and both have weathered bumpy campaign seasons.

Johnson’s critics see him as an untrustworthy Trumpian figure, and he has had a number of personal scandals. He was most recently panned for his response Monday to a photo of a sick, 4-year-old boy laying on the floor of an overcrowded hospital.

Corbyn and the Labour Party remain shrouded in accusations of anti-Semitism, which he denies. More than 8 in 10 Jews in the U.K. believe levels of anti-Semitism are high in the party and more than a third of the general public believes Corbyn is anti-Semitic. Last month, the chief rabbi of Britain published an opinion piece calling anti-Semitism a “poison” within Labour.

Corbyn faced fresh criticism when he refused four times to apologize for failing to eliminate anti-Semitism from the Labour Party when pressed by a BBC reporter at the end of November.

Polls close at 10 p.m. in the U.K. and exit polling is expected to project the winner shortly afterward, though official vote totals could take hours to come in.

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