British lawmakers vote to block no-deal Brexit in fresh blow to PM Johnson

Agencies London Sep 04, 2019, 10.22 PM(IST)

PM Boris Johnson. Photograph:( AFP )

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The second most powerful man in the Labour Party, John McDonnell, said the no-deal blocking legislation had to get assent from Queen Elizabeth

The British Parliament on Wednesday voted to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal as the British prime minister sought an election just weeks before Brexit.

After wresting control of the parliamentary agenda from Johnson six weeks into his premiership, lawmakers voted 329-300 in the second, most important, reading of a bill that would force the government to request a three-month Brexit delay rather than leave without a divorce agreement.

Johnson cast the legislative move in the House of Commons as an attempt to surrender to the EU over Brexit and demanded an October 15 snap election, a step that could free him of any constraints if he won a majority.

The second most powerful man in the Labour Party, John McDonnell, said the no-deal blocking legislation had to get assent from Queen Elizabeth, putting the law onto the statute book, before the party would agree to an election. This could, in theory, happen next Monday.

"We're ... not going to be tricked or conned by Johnson so we're looking at every way in which, having secured the legislation, he can't wriggle out of abiding by the law and implementing it," McDonnell said.

Parliament's bid to tie Johnson's hands leaves Brexit up in the air, with possible outcomes ranging from a turbulent no-deal EU exit to abandoning the whole endeavour - both outcomes that would be unacceptable to swathes of the United Kingdom's voters.

In a heated parliamentary debate, Johnson said that if Corbyn voted in favour of a draft law against the government's Brexit strategy then he should also support an election to "allow the people of this country to have their view".

The Conservative leader said he wanted an early general election on October 15 if lawmakers vote against him again on Wednesday and force him to seek a three-month Brexit extension from Brussels with a new law.

The European Commission also on Wednesday said the risk of a no-deal Brexit had increased, warning that it saw no alternative to the current withdrawal deal.