British prime minister Boris Johnson’s government was defeated in a 27-301 vote on Tuesday by a group of rebel lawmakers who have opted to seize control of parliament in order to block the no-deal Brexit that Johnson has repeatedly threatened.
A block of the Conservative Party sided with the opposition Labour Party in voting to seize control of parliamentary business on Wednesday in order to pass a bill that would prevent Johnson from exiting the European Union on the October 31 deadline without a deal.
Prior to the vote, the newly-elected prime minister vowed to fire fellow Conservatives who voted to wrest control of the House of Commons from him. Johnson issued that threat after Conservative MP Phillip Lee defected to the Liberal Democrats as Johnson was addressing the House, depriving him of the 1-member majority he previously held.
During his remarks on the floor, Johnson argued that lawmakers would disastrously weaken his negotiating position vis-a-vis Brussels if they voted for legislation that prohibits a no-deal Brexit, thereby “destroying any chance” of securing amore favorable deal.
“It would enable our friends in Brussels to dictate the terms of the negotiation. That’s what it does,” Johnson said.
The bill currently under consideration for a Wednesday vote would require that Johnson ask for parliamentary permission before agreeing to a no-deal Brexit or, failing that, work to delay the Brexit deadline until January 2020.
Johnson dubbed the effort to curtail his negotiating powers, led by Jeremy Corbyn’s opposition Labour Party, a “surrender” during his Tuesday remarks.
“I will never surrender the control of our negotiations in the way the Leader of the opposition is demanding,” Johnson said.
Corbyn, in response, criticized Johnson for failing to prevent the E.U. with any realistic alternatives to the deal secured by his predecessor Theresa May.
“The Prime Minister may claim progress has been made, but EU leaders report that the government has so far failed to present any new proposals,” Corbyn said. “It’s becoming increasingly clear that his reckless government only has one plan, to crash out of the EU without a deal.”
Following his defeat Tuesday evening, Johnson said that parliament should hold a general election to replace him as prime minister if the vote to delay Brexit passes.
“I don’t want an election but if MPs (Members of Parliament) vote tomorrow to stop negotiations and to compel another pointless delay to Brexit potentially for years then that will be the only way to resolve this,” Johnson said.