British PM Johnson demands snap election after humiliating parliament defeat

British PM Boris Johnson on Wednesday asked for holding snap election on 15 October after lawmakers seeking to prevent a no-deal Brexit dealt him a humiliating defeat in parliament. Parliament’s move leaves Brexit in limbo, with possible outcomes ranging from a turbulent no-deal exit to abandoning it at all.

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 31 October and challenged opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to agree to snap election. The government has scheduled a vote on an election after about 1800 GMT on Wednesday.

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 17 October 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 the PM and parliament continued on Wednesday with a dizzying array of events including a vote on the attempt to block no deal, a vote on Johnson’s election bid and weekly questions to the PM. 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. Opposition parties and rebels in his own party said they would not allow a no-deal Brexit to be “smuggled” through under the cover of an election.

“We’re not going to vote with Boris Johnson today to deprive ourselves of the opportunity to complete the business that we’ve just seized control of the house to do,” Keir Starmer, the opposition Labour Party’s point man on Brexit, said. "We’re not going to dance to his tune."

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