British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was left in limbo on Wednesday after MPs voted to derail his Brexit plan and rejected his call for an early election to break the political deadlock.
Just six weeks after taking office, Johnson lost his majority in the House of Commons as his own MPs joined opposition parties to stop him taking Britain out of the EU next month without a deal.
On Wednesday evening, they approved a bill that could force Johnson to delay Brexit to January or even later if he cannot agree exit terms with Brussels on time.
Johnson says he does not want a “no deal” exit on October 31 but says he must keep that option open in order to get an agreement.
He said the bill, which was being debated in the upper House of Lords into the night, “destroys the ability of government to negotiate” — and said he had no option to call an election to win a new mandate.
“If I’m still prime minister after (the vote on) Tuesday, October 15 then we will leave on October 31 with, I hope, a much better deal,” he told MPs.
But in yet another twist in the tortuous Brexit process, the opposition Labour Party refused to vote for the election, which requires the backing of two-thirds of MPs.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that while he wanted an election, he would not support the prime minister’s “cynical” call until the law blocking “no deal” was implemented.