The European Union agreed to a Brexit delay of up to three months on Monday, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would push on with his bid to end Britain’s political paralysis with an election on December 12.
With the United Kingdom’s scheduled October 31 departure from the EU now virtually certain to be postponed, Brexit hangs in the balance, with British politicians still arguing over how, when or even whether the divorce should take place at all.
Johnson, who had loudly promised to deliver Brexit on October 31, “do or die”, has repeatedly demanded an election to end what he casts as a nightmare political deadlock that is sapping public trust by preventing any Brexit outcome at all.
Hours after the 27 countries remaining in the EU backed his reluctant request for a delay, Johnson attempted to force a snap election on December 12 in the hope of finally winning a majority to pass the divorce deal he has negotiated with Brussels.
'We will not allow this paralysis to continue and, one way or another, we must proceed straight to an election,' Johnson told parliament
But his third attempt to call such an election gathered only 299 votes in parliament, short of the 424 - or two-thirds of the house - that he needed.
After the vote, Johnson said he would try again, by a legislative route that would only require a simple majority.
“We will not allow this paralysis to continue and, one way or another, we must proceed straight to an election,” Johnson told parliament. “This House cannot any longer keep this country hostage.”
To follow this route, Johnson will need the support of opposition parties such as the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats.
These have been pushing for a December 9 election, aiming to ensure that Johnson cannot try again to rush his divorce deal through.
The BBC’s political editor said Johnson’s office had confirmed that the government would not bring the deal back to parliament - potentially opening the way for the SNP and LibDems to back a snap poll on Johnson’s preferred date of December 12.