Mr. Johnson is gambling that the Conservatives, riding slightly higher in the polls, can win a solid majority over Labour, which is mired in its own Brexit divisions and saddled with a leader, Mr. Corbyn, whose leftist views put off middle-of-the-road voters. A strong victory, he said, would allow him to go into negotiations with European officials with a stronger hand than his predecessor, Theresa May.
In the three years since the referendum, however, people here have heard harrowing accounts of what could happen if Britain leaves Europe without a deal: shortages of food and medicine; trucks lined up for miles at newly installed border posts on each side of the English Channel; chaos at airports and train stations; and violence in Ireland after a hard border once again bisects the island.
That explains Mr. Johnson’s eagerness to hold the vote in mid-October, just weeks before the Oct. 31 deadline to leave the European Union, rather than afterward, when the costs of a disorderly Brexit could become clearer to voters.
“What he doesn’t want is an election down the road when we’re all eating barbecued rat,” said Baroness Scott.
There is no indication, however, that even a resounding election victory for Mr. Johnson would make Europe any more amenable to a new deal.
Officials in Brussels said they have no plans to bend on the demands they made of Mrs. May, specifically on the Northern Ireland border, which Mr. Johnson has said he would not accept. Europeans have watched the spectacle in London with a mixture of bemusement, distaste and concern.
“Observing how the prime minister behaves, both to Parliament and opponents in his own party, is certainly not an exercise in trust building,” said Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament. “We prefer to stay out of this jungle.”
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