Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for early elections has been rejected as Brexit opponents seek to pass a bill which would prevent the UK from a no-deal exit from the European Union. From the BBC:
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 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.
He said his party would back an election after the bill had been passed, but not before.
If you’re just joining this story about the battle over Brexit, you’ve missed a lot in the past week or so. First, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who supports Brexit, asked the Queen to deliver a speech which would effectively have limited the time Members of Parliament had to block what’s a no-deal Brexit. A no-deal Brexit simply means instead of exiting the European Union with an agreement that would preserve some continuity in various markets, the UK would crash out of Union with no deal. It’s the simplest way out since it doesn’t require any negotiations with the EU, but it’s also the messiest. Johnson wanted to limit time for the opposition to act because there is currently a deadline set for the end of October. If a deal hasn’t been made by then, the UK leaves automatically without one.
But Johnson’s move to limit the opposition outraged Brexit opponents including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and this Labour MP who vowed to stop at nothing to prevent it:
If Boris shuts down Parliament to carry out his No-Deal Brexit, I and other MPs will defend democracy.
The police will have to remove us from the chamber. We will call on people to take to the streets.
We will call an extraordinary session of Parliament. #PeoplesParliament
— Clive Lewis MP (@labourlewis) August 28, 2019
While this was happening, Johnson also seemed to be daring Corbyn to call for new elections. As Ed argued here, Johnson seemed to be counting on the fact that the idea of Corbyn as Prime Minister would be scarier to many voters than a no-deal Brexit. In any case, if an election were called it would happen after the deadline so any referendum on Brexit would happen after the fact.
And then things became very dramatic yesterday as a conservative “rebel” MP crossed party lines. Since the conservatives only had a one-seat majority, that meant his opponents now had the support needed to pass a bill designed to extend the Brexit deadline until next year. PM Johnson responded by calling for a snap election to take place on October 14th, before the deadline. However, today that call for an early vote failed as nearly all of Labour’s MP’s abstained from voting. Under British law, two-thirds of Parliament must approve a call for an election.
Labour, with the help of a small group of conservatives, passed a bill which would extend the Brexit deadline to next year. However, that now has to be approved by the House of Lords and there are conservative Brexit supporters there who plan to gum up the process by offering dozens of amendments. So we’ll have to wait and see what comes next. For now, here’s PM Boris Johnson making his (now rejected) call for an election: