Boris Johnson, the British Prime Minister, has said he would call for a general election after losing a key vote on Brexit, which empowered lawmakers in the House of Commons to take further control of the debate.
Opposition members of parliament and some members of Johnson’s Conservative Party voted 328 to 301 in their attempt to pass a law designed to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
The voting result means that the MPs could bring forward a bill seeking to delay the UK’s exit date, contrary to the Prime Minister’s proposition to leave the European Union with or without a deal on October 31.
That will give them the chance to introduce a cross-party bill which would force the prime minister to ask for Brexit to be delayed until January 31, 2019, unless MPs approve a new deal or vote in favour of a no-deal exit by October 19.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, said the bill should be passed before an election was held.
A total of 21 Conservative MPs, including a number of ex-cabinet ministers, joined opposition parties to defeat the government.
After the vote, Downing Street said those Conservative MPs who rebelled would have the whip removed, effectively expelling them from the parliamentary party.
Party members such as Phillip Hammond, ex-chancellor and foreign secretary, and Ken Clarke, ex-chancellor, voted against their party and the Prime Minister.
Johnson said the MPs’ bill would “hand control” of Brexit negotiations to the EU and bring “more dither, more delay, more confusion”.
He told MPs he had no choice but to press ahead with efforts to call an October election, adding: “The people of this country will have to choose.”
It was learnt that Johnson is proposing October 15 as the election date, two days before a crucial EU summit in Brussels, Belgium.
However, to call an election under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the Prime Minister would need support from Labour as he requires the backing of two-thirds of the UK’s 650 MPs.