Published: Wed, September 04, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

UK: PM suffers defeat in crucial Commons vote

UK: PM suffers defeat in crucial Commons vote

The debate took place in extraordinary circumstances, with the Tories losing their working majority of just one MP-even as Johnson made a statement to Parliament prior to the emergency debate on last week's G7 Summit.

"The Brexiteers are laying a trap to seem as if pushed into an election whilst actively preparing for one", he said.

British lawmakers on Tuesday triggered a vote that could allow them to stop Boris Johnson pursuing a "no-deal" Brexit, a challenge that the government warned would prompt the prime minister to seek an election on October 14.

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.

Alex Dawson, a former adviser to Prime Minister Theresa May, said it was an important part of Downing Street's strategy to be seen not to want a general election.

While Johnson again stated his plans to "go for a deal and get a deal", officials from the Brexit Task Force briefed on Tuesday that no proposals had been received. It is also still considering tabling a vote of no confidence in Johnson but said it was a hard judgment call and it had to be sure it could win it. "Prime Minister Johnson has always intended that there will be an election".

"I don't want an election but if MPs vote tomorrow to stop the negotiations and to compel another pointless delay of Brexit, potentially for years, then that will be the only way to resolve this", Johnson said minutes after he lost the vote in Parliament.

"I remain confident that if both parties will come to the table and negotiate in good faith, we truly believe that by the end of October a deadline can be met with Brexit", he told reporters.

Without a majority, the prime minister is unable to guarantee that any redrafted agreement with Brussels could be ratified in Westminster.

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His aides had already warned that defeat would force him to call a snap election ahead of a crucial European Union summit on October 17-18 - and a mere fortnight before Brexit.

On a day of high drama, an Edinburgh court meanwhile heard a legal challenge against Johnson's decision to suspend parliament next week for more than a month, which critics said was a bid to silence MPs. There are many unknowns - for starters, it is not clear whether there might eventually be an alliance between Johnson and the Brexit Party led by euroskeptic Nigel Farage.

The Conservative rebels supported an opposition motion temporarily allowing parliament to decide what legislation is put up for a vote, a power traditionally held by the government.

Under that schedule, the newly elected government would have less than three weeks to determine the way out of the Brexit conundrum that has dominated British politics for the past three years.

Meanwhile, fears of an abrupt "no-deal" Brexit were rising elsewhere.

United Nations economists also on Tuesday warned that Britain could lose at least $16 billion a year on exports to the European Union if it left without a deal.

But Varadkar quashed the idea that he might do a side-deal with Johnson bypassing European Union concerns.

Rebel Tory members of the British parliament are poised to join their colleagues from opposition Labour to bring forward a bill later Tuesday in a bid to stop Britain leaving the European Union on October 31 without an agreement.

"An election is coming, the question is, is that election going to be in October, or November", he told Euronews.

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