British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been forced to “pause” his Brexit deal legislation after parliament rejected his fast-track timetable.
The House of Commons voted down the accelerated timetable for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill by 322 to 308, a majority of 14, despite lending the prime minister historic support for his bill minutes previously.
It means Johnson cannot make good on his “do or die” pledge as the UK is unlikely to leave the European Union on Oct. 31.
The prime minister confirmed the legislation will be “paused” until the EU reaches a decision on extending Article 50, which concerns withdrawal from the bloc.
It was a fresh twist on a night of high Brexit drama in the Commons as pro-Leave Labour members and hardline Tory Brexiteers joined forces in the first of two votes, which was held to decide whether to approve the Withdrawal Agreement Bill’s general principles.
Parliament first leaned in favor of the fresh Brexit deal Johnson struck with Brussels, voting 329 to 299 ― a majority of 30.
But the prime minister was dealt a loss in the second vote, which concerned his proposed timetable. Scrapping it makes it extremely difficult for Johnson to ram through the legislation by the end of the month.
As well as a lack of time for scrutiny, opposition party members have said they will push for a customs union and a second referendum.
Johnson had earlier told the Commons that he would “in no way allow months more of this” as he called on parliament to work “night and day” to get the bill through.
“If parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen, and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the government continue with this,” he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, accused Johnson of “trying to blindside” parliament with a “disgraceful attempt to dodge accountability, scrutiny, and any kind of proper debate.”
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