Boris Johnson and Britain on the Brink

Jack Rowlett | @JackRowlett

The dramatic events in Britain continued to unfold last night as the House of Commons voted to enable a delay on Boris Johnson and his plans for a hard Brexit until after Oct. 31. Johnson’s leadership has faced four straight defeats and the erosion of its parliamentary majority in the span of 48 hours.

The Bill from Labour’s Hillary Benn requires that Johnson ask for an extension to Article 50. If Parliament does not explicitly approve either a deal or no deal. The bill passed through the House of Commons after an emergency debate held by Speaker John Bercow on Tuesday night. 

Parliament then voted on against triggering a snap election in a further Government defeat.

Johnson’s government won the vote by a margin of 298 to 56. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, a two-thirds majority of MPs is required for an early election to take place. 

Why Did Labour Vote Against Boris Johnson?

To turn down the opportunity for a general election is an unusual move in British politics. Labour has spent two years demanding that a general election takes place to determine the future of Brexit and the country. 

Led by socialist Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has justified its choice as helping to block Boris Johnson and a no-deal Brexit. Labour says that it does not want an election until the bill voted upon had the opportunity to pass through the Lords. That could be as late as Monday.

Once that has taken place, some argue that it would be impossible for a no-deal situation to arise through the choice of the UK and it would be safe to hold an election. 

Boris Johnson Called “Racist” by Labour’s Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi

To make matters worse for Boris Johnson, Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi attacked past words from the prime minister. “When will the prime minister finally apologize for his derogatory and racist remarks?” asked Dhesi.

Johnson shot back, claiming, “We have the most diverse cabinet in the history of this country and we truly reflect modern Britain.”

What Happens Now?

It is unclear at this point as to what Boris Johnson and the government’s strategy will be. It is possible to subvert the Fixed Term Parliaments Act with a one-line motion that allows a general election to be called with a simple majority. Even this has it’s problems, following the suspension of 21 Tory MPs so it is doubtful such a vote could be won. The No-Deal-Brexit Bill is set to enter the Lords tomorrow. 

As is so often the case with politics at the moment, it is difficult to predict what might happen. What is clear is that there will be more twists and turns in the Brexit debate over the coming days.


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