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UK Parliament rejects Boris Johnson's early election bid in Brexit run-up

By Anuj Cariappa
|

London, Sep 10: British MPs on Tuesday voted against holding an early election next month in a fresh blow for beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A total of 293 of the 650 House of Commons members backed the proposal, well short of the two-thirds majority needed (at least 434). Opposition lawmakers voted against the measure or abstained.

Boris Johnson

This is the second time in a week, lawmakers rejected Johnson's request to try and break the deadlock through an early national election.

Johnson slammed the opposition for voting against his call for a snap poll next month, in the final minutes of a late-night debate ahead of a controversial five-week suspension of parliament called by the prime minister.

He said he would "strive to get an agreement" at a summit in Brussels next month. "While the opposition run from their duty to answer to those who put us here, they cannot hide forever," he said.

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"The moment will come when the people will finally get their chance to deliver their verdict." It was a final show of defiance in a stormy parliamentary session in which Johnson also lost a separate vote, calling on the government to publish confidential papers about the potential impact of a no-deal Brexit.

The opposition has said it will not allow an early election, which under British law requires a two-thirds majority in parliament in favour, until Johnson has either struck a deal or delayed Brexit beyond October 31.

The prime minister insisted he would not delay, despite a bill being rushed through parliament in the past few days that could force him to do so if he fails to reach an agreement with the EU.

"This government will not delay Brexit any further," he insisted.

In a further sign of the political turmoil, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, who has championed the rights of MPs to challenge the government, announced he was stepping down.

Johnson took office in July promising to deliver on the 2016 referendum vote for Brexit, even if that means leaving without exit terms agreed with Brussels.

But many MPs have rejected a no deal divorce and supported new legislation forcing Johnson to request a three-month delay if he fails to strike a deal.

His last chance to reach an agreement is at the two-day EU summit starting on October 17.

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