Sep 3, 2019

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.

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Westminster mayhem

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Photo: House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

The U.K. House of Commons voted 327-299 on Wednesday to pass a bill forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a Brexit extension rather than take the country out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without a divorce deal.

Why it matters: Less than a day after expelling 21 rebel lawmakers from his own Conservative Party, Johnson saw his government defeated in Parliament for the 2nd consecutive time. Hours later, Parliament rejected Johnson's proposal to hold a general election on Oct. 15, which he hoped could earn him a fresh majority to resolve the Brexit impasse.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 4, 2019

Boris Johnson expected to call election if he loses Brexit vote

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside his official residence at 10 Downing Street in London. Photo: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.K. government plans to table a motion to hold a general election on Oct. 14 if it's defeated by lawmakers opposed to a no-deal Brexit Tuesday, officials told British news outlets. Conservative members of parliament face expulsion from the ruling party if they vote against the government.

Why it matters: Prime Minister Boris Johnson was elected Conservative Party leader on the promise that he would deliver Brexit — with or without a deal. Rebel conservative lawmakers are joining forces with Labour to bring a bill designed to stop the U.K. from exiting the EU on Oct. 31 without a deal, per the BBC.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Sep 3, 2019

Parliament defeats Boris Johnson to take control of Brexit process

Photo: House of Commons/PA Images via Getty Images

U.K.'s Parliament voted 328-301 on Tuesday night to take control of the legislative agenda in an effort to stop Prime Minister Boris Johnson from forcing through a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.

Why it matters: The lawmakers who voted in favor of the motion include a number of high-profile rebels in Johnson's own Conservative Party. They were stripped of their affiliation after the vote. Parliament on Wednesday will vote on a bill to force Johnson to seek a Brexit extension from the European Union. Operating under the assumption that the bill will pass, Johnson said he will introduce a motion tonight to dissolve Parliament and hold a general election an Oct. 14.

Go deeperArrowSep 3, 2019