British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday demanded an Oct. 15 snap election after lawmakers seeking to prevent a no-deal Brexit dealt him a humiliating defeat in parliament which he cast as an attempt to surrender to the European Union.
|British PM Johnson demands October 15 election after defeat over Brexit
Parliament’s move leaves Brexit up in the air, with possible outcomes ranging from a turbulent no-deal exit to abandoning the whole endeavor - both outcomes would be unacceptable to swathes of the United Kingdom’s voters.
An alliance of opposition lawmakers backed by 21 rebels from Johnson’s Conservative Party defeated the government on Tuesday on a motion allowing them to try to pass a law which would force a three-month extension to Britain’s EU exit date.
Johnson cast the rebellion as an attempt to surrender to the EU, vowed never to delay Brexit beyond Oct. 31 and challenged opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to agree to an Oct. 15 election.
“Can I invite the leader of the opposition to confirm, when he stands up shortly, that if that surrender bill is passed, he will allow the people of this country to have their view on what he is proposing to hand over in their name with an election on October the 15th,” Johnson told parliament.
However, needing the backing of two-thirds of lawmakers, Johnson’s bid for an election is set to be initially thwarted as opposition parties are united in wanting to prevent a no-deal Brexit before agreeing to a vote.
Johnson said his strategy was to get a Brexit deal by an EU summit on Oct. 17 and “get Brexit done”. He said the British government was making substantial progress and would succeed in removing the Irish border backstop.
The showdown between prime minister and parliament continues on Wednesday with a dizzying array of events planned including a vote on the attempt to block no deal, a vote on Johnson’s election bid and weekly questions to the prime minister.
As the three-year Brexit crisis approaches a crescendo, the United Kingdom was edging towards an election as most British politicians see no other way to break the impasse.
One scenario is for opposition parties to defeat Johnson’s bid for an election until they have passed their bill blocking a no-deal Brexit. Once in law, opposition parties could then agree to an election.