Boris Johnson's Brexit Plan In Tatters As Parliament Rips Up Timetable

The British prime minister had desperately wanted to steer the U.K. out of the European Union by Halloween.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been forced to “pause” his Brexit deal legislation after Parliament rejected his fast-track timetable.

The House of Commons voted down the accelerated timetable for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill by 322 to 308, a majority of 14, despite lending the prime minister historic support for his bill minutes previously.

It was a fresh twist on a night of high Brexit drama in the Commons as pro-Leave Labour members and hardline Tory Brexiteers joined forces in the first of two votes, which was held to decide whether to approve the Withdrawal Agreement Bill’s general principles.

Parliament first leaned in favor of the fresh Brexit deal Johnson struck with Brussels, voting 329 to 299, a majority of 30. But the prime minister was dealt a loss in the second vote, which concerned his proposed timetable.

It means Johnson cannot make good on his “do or die” pledge as the U.K. is unlikely to leave the European Union on Oct. 31.

The prime minister paid tribute to members of parliament who backed his plan and told the Commons that “one way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal.”

He also confirmed the legislation will be “paused” until the EU reaches a decision on extending Article 50, which concerns withdrawal from the block. Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said Parliament will return to debating the Queen’s speech, which came earlier this month as part of the State Opening of Parliament ceremony, on Wednesday.

Johnson said an extension from EU leaders is not guaranteed, however, and that the U.K. would step up no-deal preparations, saying: “I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK would be in a position to leave the EU on October 31 with a deal.”

He added: “And let me be clear: our policy remains that we should not delay, that we should leave the EU on Oct. 31.”

“That is what I will say to the EU and I will report back to the House. And one way or another we will leave the EU with this deal to which this House has just given its assent,” Johnson said.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Johnson was “the author of his own misfortune” as he called for the government to work with opposition members to draft a new timetable.

“That would be the sensible way forward, and that’s the offer I make on behalf of the opposition tonight,” he said.

The scrapping of the timetable makes it extremely difficult for Johnson to ram through the legislation by his preferred deadline, and he could now demand a fresh general election.