The European Union agreed a three-month flexible Brexit delay on Monday but the British parliament rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bid to end the political paralysis with a December 12 election.
Days before the United Kingdom was formally due to leave the EU on October 31, Brexit hangs in the balance, with British politicians still arguing over how, when or even if the divorce should take place at all.
Mr. Johnson, who vowed to deliver Brexit “do or die” on October 31, has repeatedly demanded an election to end what he casts as the nightmare of a deadlocked political system that is sapping trust in democracy by preventing any Brexit outcome at all.
But just hours after the 27 countries that will remain in the EU agreed to his reluctant request for a delay, Mr. Johnson’s attempt to force a December 12 election secured only 299 votes in favour — short of the 424 that would have secured the required two-thirds majority. It was the third time he had failed to call an election.
Mr. Johnson’s defeat means he is now likely to seek a different route to an election — by passing a law with a simple majority that bypasses the 2011 Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
To do so, he would need the support of opposition parties such as the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats, which have been pushing for a December 9 election, along with a guarantee that Johnson will not resume debate on the divorce deal he has agreed with Brussels.
After almost four years of tortuous discussion about Brexit, the United Kingdom remains divided over a divorce that removes what was once considered to be one of the West’s most stable democracies from the European project.
Johnson to present bill
Mr. Johnson said his government would present a bill to parliament to hold an election on December 12, saying it was time to ”get Brexit done”.
“Later on this evening, the government will give notice of presentation for a short bill for an election on the 12th of December so we can finally get Brexit done,” Mr. Johnson told parliament.