LONDON: British lawmakers inflicted a fresh defeat on Prime Minister Boris Johnson s Brexit strategy on Wednesday, approving in principle a law that could stop him taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal next month.
The House of Commons voted by 329 to 300 in favour of a draft bill that could delay Brexit for three months, although it still must pass further stages to become law.
Johnson had earlier warned he would call an early election on October 15 if the legislation went ahead, insisting Britain must leave the EU as planned on October 31, with or without a divorce deal with Brussels.
“I will never allow that,” he told MPs about the delay plan, saying the draft law would “surrender” control over Brexit negotiations to Brussels.
But the government was braced for defeat, and has already introduced a motion for a vote later Wednesday calling for a snap poll before the last summit of EU leaders before Brexit, which begins on October 17.
In yet another twist in the tortuous Brexit process, however, the opposition Labour party is expected to withhold its support for the election, which requires the backing of two-thirds of MPs.
The defeat comes the day after MPs defied the government in a preparatory vote on the draft bill on Tuesday evening, when 21 of Johnson s own Conservative lawmakers rebelled.
He expelled them all, depriving his six-week-old government of a parliamentary majority.