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Key figures in Britain's Dec 12 general election


BRITAIN'S pre-Christmas election on Dec 12 could reshuffle the deck in parliament after years of gridlock over the Brexit crisis.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives will be trying to finally get a ruling majority while smaller opposition parties will want Brexit either softened or reversed.

Here is a look at the personalities behind the election campaign drama that is set to unfold across British town halls and debate stages in the coming weeks.

Boris Johnson

The Conservative prime minister was the boisterous 2016 Brexit referendum campaign figurehead who rode atop a big red bus promising a prosperous future once Britain leaves the European Union (EU).

The mop-topped blonde is an Oxford University and elite Eton boys school graduate whose career as a high-flying journalist nearly ended over made-up quotes.

But he survived those and subsequent scandals about alleged affairs and secret children to go on to serve two terms as mayor of London before becoming foreign minister.

Tory members picked Mr Johnson as former prime minister Theresa May's successor in July, largely because of the 55-year-old's genuine popularity and perceived ability to win at the polls.

Jeremy Corbyn

The socialist Labour leader is a vegetarian cyclist with a silver beard and thinning hair who lacks Mr Johnson's charisma but still came within a whisker of scoring a major election upset in 2017.

The 70-year-old's embrace of leftist causes such as Marxist guerrillas in Latin America and IRA militants in Northern Ireland petrifies London bankers, enrages former soldiers and puts some Western governments on guard. But his proven ability to navigate treacherous party politics and jostle with Conservative leaders in weekly parliamentary debates will prove essential should Labour find itself in power for the first time since 2010.

Jo Swinson

The 39-year-old leader of the surging Liberal Democrats is an unabashed supporter of Europe whose entire campaign is based on a pledge to stop Britain leaving the EU by any means. The relatively unknown Glasgow native is a life-long party member who became the youngest lawmaker in parliament when she first won her seat in 2005.

She took time off to write a book about gender equality and ran her own business after the Liberal Democrats got drubbed in the 2015 election. Ms Swinson made history again when she became the first member of parliament to bring her baby into the chamber during a debate last year.

Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish National Party leader has always opposed Brexit and promoted independence from Britain.

The 49-year-old law school graduate became Scotland's first female leader in 2014 and oversees her party's policies in parliament from Edinburgh.

She became a party member at the age of 16 and won her first local election in 1999. Sturgeon is a popular figure who enjoys snapping selfies with voters and is tipped to lead her party to a strong showing at the polls in December. AFP

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