UK's Johnson loses majority ahead of Brexit parliament showdown

Cheryl Sanders
September 5, 2019

Members of Johnson's own Conservative party, including Philip Hammond, are preparing to join opposition lawmakers in a vote to try to force a delay to Britain's exit from the European Union if he can not secure a divorce deal with Brussels in the next few weeks.

If the rebels succeeded in their aims, Mr Johnson said it would force him to go to Brussels to "beg for another pointless delay" to Brexit and he would "never" do that.

But his critics won an early boost by the dramatic defection of Conservative MP Phillip Lee, who crossed the Commons while Johnson was speaking to sit with the pro-European Liberal Democrats.

On parliament's first day back from its summer break, they put forward a motion to grab control of parliament on Wednesday - a step that, after a debate granted by the speaker, was to go to a House of Commons vote at around 8-9 p.m. on Tuesday.

He said: "This Conservative Government is aggressively pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways".

- The fate of Brexit hung in the balance on Tuesday as parliament prepared for an explosive showdown with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's that could end in a snap election.

A new poll would need the approval of Parliament, but pro-Remain MPs said the priority should be to stop no deal.

Under the terms of the European Union (Withdrawal) (no 6) Bill, the Government must seek a delay to the UK's withdrawal from the EU until January 31 if there is no agreement with Brussels in place by October 19 and Parliament has not approved a no-deal Brexit.

"His is a government with no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority", Corbyn said.

The Conservative rebels and the opposition have indicated they believe they have enough votes to force through a vote blocking a no-deal Brexit.

The pound sterling hit multi-year lows against the dollar on Tuesday amid fears of a no-deal Brexit but rebounded after Johnson lost his working parliamentary majority.

If MPs agree on Tuesday to allow the cross-party group to seize control of the parliamentary business, the legislation will be considered on Wednesday.

A fresh vote to choose a new government would mark the climax of the political chaos that has engulfed Britain for the past three years since the country voted narrowly to leave the European Union in a referendum in 2016.

Follow our live blog throughout the day for all updates on Johnson's day in Parliament.

The heightened political tension sent the British pound tumbling on Tuesday to its lowest level against the dollar in nearly three years. Johnson last week maneuvered to give his political opponents even less time to block a chaotic no-deal Brexit, getting Queen Elizabeth II's approval to suspend Parliament. Leaving without an agreement would be hugely disruptive for the British economy, but it would also hurt the rest of the EU.

Leaked government assessments have warned that no-deal could lead to food, fuel and medicine shortages.

"But I have to say if we don't act we know pretty well for certain that we will be leaving without a deal on October 31".

Leaving the European Union without a trade deal would cost Britain at least $16 billion in lost EU sales, and probably far more after accounting for indirect effects and other markets, a report by the United Nations trade agency UNCTAD said on Tuesday. The EU has so far refused, saying Johnson has not been able to offer a workable alternative.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said Tuesday that it had yet to see any "concrete proposals" from London on how it wants to change the existing deal.

Mr Johnson has pledged to deliver Brexit by October 31 "do or die" and with or without a deal but his preference remains to take Britain out of the bloc with an agreement.

Pro and anti-Brexit protesters compete for attention outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on September 3, 2019.

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