Prime Minister Boris Johnson raised the prospect of a snap election after he suffered a major parliamentary defeat over his Brexit strategy that could delay Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Just six weeks after taking office, the Conservative leader was hit by a huge rebellion among his own MPs that leaves him without a working majority in the House of Commons as he looks to take Britain out of the EU on October 31.
Twenty-one Conservatives joined opposition MPs to begin the process of drafting legislation that could stop a “no-deal” exit by delaying the departure date by three months.
The prime minister had earlier warned that rebels who voted against him would be expelled from the party, while one other Conservative, former minister Philip Lee, dramatically defected to the pro-European Liberal Democrats.
Addressing braying MPs immediately after the vote, in which the government was defeated 328 votes to 301, Johnson said he had no option but to move to call an early general election.
Shouting to make himself heard, he warned the rebels’ proposal would hand control over Brexit to Brussels, causing “more delay and more confusion” in the already tortuous departure process.
Boris Johnson has faced a double defeat in the Commons after MPs turned down his motion for a general election.
Earlier, MPs backed a bill aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit if the PM hadn’t agreed on a plan with the EU ahead of the 31 October deadline.
Mr Johnson said the bill “scuppered” negotiations and the only way forward now was an election. But Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the PM of “playing a disingenuous game” to force a no-deal Brexit.
Meanwhile, the fallout from No 10’s decision to withdraw the party whip from 21 Tory rebels who backed the bill to block no-deal has continued to face criticism from others in the party.
A group of around 80 Conservatives have written to the prime minister, calling on him to re-instate the whip to the “principled, hard-working and dedicated” MPs.
Johnson took over as premier in July promising to finally deliver on the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit, after his predecessor, Theresa May delayed exit day twice.
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