Boris Johnson suffered another couple of humiliating defeats on Wednesday as the UK stumbles hither and thither in an endless quest for the elusive Brexit.
First, MPs voted 327 to 299 to compel Johnson to request a three-month delay in the event he can’t strike some kind of deal with Brussels prior to October 31, the day he swears he’ll leap, on behalf of the entire country, out of the EU jetliner with or without a parachute, while it’s cruising at 30,000 feet.
The draft bill – which would also allow him to leave the EU without an agreement if he can convince Parliament to go along with it – now goes to the House of Lords, where it will have to pass in order to become law. Johnson lost his majority in Parliament on Tuesday, which paved the way for a 328-301 defeat in a vote that granted a cross-party alliance control of the legislative agenda, setting the stage for Wednesday’s proceedings.
He did make good on a threat to expel 21 party rebels (including Philip Hammond and, amusingly, Winston Churchill’s grandson), many of whom support Brexit, but not the no-deal variant.
Johnson was defiant throughout, again insisting he will not ask the EU for a delay. As expected, he called for an election on October 15. Here’s the clip:
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He needed two-thirds of MPs to support the election plan. Predictably, he didn’t get there.
The ayes prevailed 298 to 56, but Boris needed 434 for the motion to pass.
Now, he’ll have to try again. If the bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit becomes law, the opposition would presumably back his call for an early election.
For now, though, Boris is 0-4 in votes as prime minister.
“What’s clear to even to those that don’t follow British politics closely is that what’s going on in parliament is not just historic and exceptional; it’s also bizarre”, Mohamed El-Erian remarked on Wednesday, adding that “the UK is venturing deeper into uncertainty with little scope for the needed growth reforms on the economic front”.
Let the farce continue.