U.K. government loses majority as Boris Johnson speaks in Parliament
The Conservative Party lost its working majority of 1 on Tuesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was giving an address in Parliament, with lawmaker Phillip Lee crossing the floor of the House of Commons to defect to the Liberal Democrats in dramatic fashion.
Why it matters: Parliament will vote this week on whether to block the government from carrying out a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, assuming Johnson isn't able to strike a last-minute agreement with the European Union. Johnson has threatened to expel Conservative lawmakers who vote against the government, and he has signaled that he will call a general election if the legislation to block no-deal succeeds.
Between the lines: In the context of Brexit, it doesn't necessarily matter that Johnson has lost his majority, as a number of Conservative lawmakers are planning to vote against the government this week anyway. However, Lee's defection adds to the chaos of Johnson's short tenure as prime minister and underscores the intraparty divisions in Parliament that have hamstrung the Brexit process.
In a letter to Johnson, Lee wrote:
"Sadly, the Brexit process has helped to transform this once great Party in to something more akin to a narrow faction, where an individual's 'conservatism' is measured by how recklessly one wishes to leave the European Union. Perhaps most disappointingly, it has increasingly become infected with the twin diseases of populism and English nationalism."
The big picture: Most members of Parliament oppose a no-deal Brexit. Lawmakers' power to stop a no-deal has been severely hampered by Johnson's controversial move to suspend Parliament, which cut down on the amount of time it will be in session before Oct. 31.