Boris loses majority as MPs look to block no-deal Brexit
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the media outside Downing Street in London, Britain.- Reuters
London - Johnson cast the challenge as an attempt to force Britain to surrender to the EU.
British lawmakers on Tuesday began a bid to stop Boris Johnson pursuing what they cast as a calamitous 'no-deal' Brexit, a challenge that a senior government source said would prompt the prime minister to press for a snap election on October 14.
More than three years after the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, the outcome of the Brexit crisis remains uncertain, with possible outcomes ranging from a turbulent no-deal exit to abandoning the whole endeavour.
Johnson implicitly warned lawmakers on Monday that he would seek an election if they tied his hands in talks to negotiate a last-minute divorce deal, ruling out ever countenancing a further delay to Brexit, originally due to take place last March but now scheduled for October 31. That set up an historic showdown between prime minister and parliament in a country once touted as a confident pillar of Western economic and political stability.
On parliament's first day back from its summer break, an alliance of opposition lawmakers and rebels in Johnson's Conservative Party put forward a motion to launch their bid to block a no-deal exit, and appeared confident of victory.
Johnson cast the challenge as an attempt to force Britain to surrender to the EU just as he hopes to secure concessions on the terms of the divorce - a step he said he would never accept. "It means running up the white flag," he said. "It is a bill that, if passed, would force me to go to Brussels and beg an extension. It would force me to accept the terms offered. It would destroy any chance of negotiation for a new deal.
Just as Johnson began speaking, he lost his working majority in parliament when one of his own Conservative lawmakers, Phillip Lee, crossed the floor of the House of Commons to join the pro-EU Liberal Democrats.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told parliament that Johnson's was a government with "no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority".