UK leader Boris Johnson loses second bid to hold an early election – CNBC

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lost a second bid to hold a snap election, making it more likely that he will have to ask the EU for an extension to the current Brexit deadline.

Only 293 out of 650 lawmakers in the lower house of parliament supported the government’s proposal — that fall short of the two-thirds majority, or 434 votes, the government needed.

Tuesday’s vote was the second time in a week that lawmakers turned down Johnson’s request for an early election. Parliament has been suspended for five weeks and lawmakers will return on Oct. 14.

Addressing the parliament after Tuesday’s vote, Johnson said: “This government will not delay Brexit any further.”

He vowed that the government will “press on with negotiating a deal, while preparing to leave without one.”

“I will go to that crucial summit on October the 17th and no matter how many devices this parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive to get an agreement in the national interest,” Johnson added.

During the debate Monday, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party will not vote for an election until the possibility of a no-deal Brexit at the end of October has been taken off the table.

“Until … no-deal has been taken off the table… we will not vote to support the dissolution of this house and a general election,” Corbyn told parliament. Britain is due to leave the European Union on Oct. 31.

“We’re eager for an election. But as keen as we are, we are not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of no-deal on our communities,” Corbyn said.

It was widely expected that Johnson would lose the vote on Monday evening, having lost a bid to hold a snap vote last Wednesday amid upheaval in British politics. A week ago, a majority of lawmakers (including members of the ruling Conservative Party) voted to take control of the parliamentary agenda from Johnson’s government.

A majority then approved legislation to block Johnson from being able to oversee a no-deal Brexit on October 31.

That legislation — which stipulates that Johnson must ask the EU for an extension to the Brexit deadline if no deal is approved or rejected by parliament by October 19 — received royal approval and became law on Monday, making it ostensibly illegal for Johnson to defy it.

Opposition parties had already agreed that they would not approve Johnson’s motion to hold an early election before the legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit was enshrined in law, or a delay was secured from the EU. An early election could have strengthened Johnson’s hand to repeal the legislation and proceed with a no-deal Brexit.

In typical flamboyant fashion, Johnson has said he would rather “die in a ditch” than ask for more time from the EU. As such, it is still unclear whether the government could try to circumvent or challenge the legislation.

When asked whether the prime minister could defy parliament by pursuing a no-deal Brexit, the government’s Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay was coy, telling CNBC Sunday that “the ministerial code requires obeying the law … but the key issue is how do we deliver on the democratic results of the British people.”


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