Another blow for Boris Johnson: Bill blocking no-deal Brexit advances in House of Commons

The move by members of Parliament is a major rebuke of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

By Matthew Rozsa
September 4, 2019 10:52PM (UTC)
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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Getty/AP/ Matt Dunham/WPA Pool)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dealt a major rebuke by the House of Commons as it advanced legislation that could block the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

The bill requires Johnson to request another Brexit extension if he cannot obtain a deal with the European Union over the next few weeks, according to CNN. It was approved in the House of Commons by a vote of 329 to 300 in its initial phase and will now move to a final stage before being voted on later.


The U.K. is currently scheduled to leave the EU on Oct. 31, but it has the right to request an extension that could allow for more time to hammer out a deal if approved at the European Union Council summit.

In response to the possibility of being unable to push Britain into a no-deal Brexit, Johnson threatened on Wednesday to call a snap election, although he may lack parliamentary support to do so.

"I don’t want an election, the public don’t want an election, but if the House votes for this bill tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on Oct. 17 to sort this out and take this country forward," Johnson said in a statement after Parliament's vote to force the Brexit legislation forward on Tuesday.


On Monday, Johnson made it clear that he felt any legislation which prohibited him from a no-deal Brexit would tie his hands when he tried to negotiate with the EU.

"As we come to that Brexit deadline, I am encouraged by the progress we are making," Johnson told reporters. "In the last few weeks ,the chances of a deal have been rising, I believe, for three reasons: They can see that we want a deal, they can see that we have a clear vision for our future relationship with the EU (something that has not always perhaps been the case) and they can see that we are utterly determined to strengthen our position by getting ready to come out regardless, come what may. But if there is one that can hold us back in these talks, it is the sense in Brussels that MPs may find some way to cancel the referendum or that tomorrow MPs will vote with Jeremy Corbyn for yet another pointless delay."

He added, "I don't think they will. I hope that they won't. But if they do, they will plainly chop the legs out from under the U.K. position and make any further negotiation absolutely impossible. And so I say, to show our friends in Brussels that we are united in our purpose, MPs should vote with the government against Corbyn's pointless delay. I want everybody to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on the 31st of October, no ifs or buts. We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum."


Johnson's policies regarding Brexit have proven divisive, with 21 members of his own Conservative Party set to be formally expelled after they voted against the prime minister, including Nicholas Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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