Photo calls. Stump speeches. Leaflets tumbling through letterboxes. Debates (and debates about the debates). Daily opinion polls showing the slightest nudge one way or the other.
Whether it likes it or not, Britain is now in election season.
But while this poll will have all the hallmarks of campaigns past, it will not be a regular election.
For one, there’ll be a chill in the air. Spring elections are the norm in the UK, and its last poll took place in June. But this year, activists will be accosting Christmas shoppers, and nativity scenes will decorate polling stations in schools and churches across the country.
More pressingly, the temperature of the nation is dramatically different too. Brexit will dominate the campaign; and unlike in 2017, when both the Conservatives and Labour were arguing they would pursue Brexit, voters have a wide array of choices.
This year four parties are seeing reasonable results in the polls, and all have dramatically different approaches to resolving the UK’s biggest political crisis since the World War II.
The immediate future of the nation could therefore come down to a handful of mini-battles over the next six weeks, and whether one of those groups can pick up some real campaign momentum.
Here’s a recap of where the four main groups stand:
Conservative Party: Boris Johnson will campaign on his Brexit deal, which he agreed with the EU earlier this month. It looks a lot like Theresa’s May pact, save for one crucial difference — Johnson has swapped out the backstop for a customs border in the Irish sea. He’ll need to persuade Brexit purists that he can be trusted after failing to deliver his “do or die,” “dead in a ditch” promise to take Britain out of the EU by October 31.
Labour Party: After much deliberating, Jeremy Corbyn backed a confirmatory referendum on Brexit earlier this year. His party’s plan is to negotiate a softer Brexit deal with the EU, and then to put it to a vote against the option of remaining. Corbyn says the process can be pulled off within six months of an election, and his is the only major party pushing for a second poll.
Liberal Democrats: After branding themselves as the anti-Brexit party, the Liberal Democrats have seen their membership and MP count surge in recent months. The group backs revoking Article 50 and scrapping Brexit altogether, the most hardline of all Remain options. They are traditionally the UK’s third party and winning a majority is essentially impossible, but the group could damage the Conservatives in seats that have typically voted Tory but are also heavy Remain-voting areas.
Brexit Party: Nigel Farage reprised his role as a pro-Brexit agitator when he set up the Brexit Party, which performed well in this year’s European election. He wants a no-deal Brexit, an outcome economists have warned against but the government briefly talked up before striking a deal with the EU. Farage will take on Johnson over his Brexit credentials, and the winner of that battle could dictate the election — if Farage picks up momentum, the Conservatives could be squeezed from both sides on the issue.