LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a major defeat in Parliament on Tuesday night as rebellious lawmakers voted to seize control of the Brexit agenda. The prime minister immediately said he would call for a new general election.
The 328 to 301 vote cleared the way for Johnson’s opponents to introduce a bill Wednesday that would prevent Britain from leaving the European Union without a deal Oct. 31.
The cross-party rebels are determined to prevent a “no-deal” Brexit because of fears it would gravely damage the economy, and the vote came hours after Johnson suffered key defections from his party, losing a working majority in Parliament.
On a day of high drama and acerbic debate in the House of Commons, lawmakers returned from their summer recess to confront Johnson over his insistence that the U.K. leave the European Union on Oct. 31, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow. Many shouted, “Resign!”
A new general election would take Britain’s future directly to the people for a third general election in four years.
Earlier Tuesday, two other prominent Conservatives signaled their intention not to seek re-election rather than bend to Johnson’s will. Former Cabinet minister Justine Greening and former Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt also signaled their intention to stand down.
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, lambasted the weakened Johnson and accused him of “riding roughshod” over the constitution in order to crash Britain out of the EU without a deal.
“He isn’t winning friends in Europe. He’s losing friends at home. His is a government with no mandate, no morals and, as of today, no majority,” Corbyn said.
Associated Press writer Lorne Cook contributed to this report.