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Boris Johnson’s bid for early UK election rejected

Here's what you need to know about Brexit
03:38

What we covered here

  • What’s happening with Brexit: British lawmakers in the House of Commons passed a bill aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit, in another blow for Prime Minster Boris Johnson.
  • What about an election: Also on Wednesday, in another setback for the PM, lawmakers rejected Johnson’s proposal to hold a snap election on October 15. 
  • What happened earlier: Johnson ousted 21 MPs from his own party after they voted with opposition lawmakers to take control of the parliamentary agenda, depriving him of a working majority.
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Filibuster ends

Late in the night, the House of Lords filibuster has ended.

The three defeats of Boris Johnson

So, there we have it. Boris Johnson has lost three key parliamentary votes in less than 24 hours. It’s worth mentioning these three votes were the first votes he faced in Parliament since becoming Prime Minister.

Here is the tally:

  • He was first defeated on Wednesday when the opposition, joined by a group of 21 Conservative rebels, seized control of parliamentary business
  • He then failed to stop a bill blocking no-deal Brexit from going through
  • And finally, he lost a vote on whether to hold an early election.

British politics doesn’t follow the three-strikes law. But the defeats are painful – especially since Johnson has also lost his working majority in Parliament after sacking the rebels who voted against him.

Elsewhere, peers in the House of Lords are settling in for a very long night of voting on amendments to the Brexit delay bill. They have tabled 86 amendments, a move the opposition branded a filibuster.

Boris Johnson has lost three crucial votes in less than 24 hours.

Johnson: Labour's position is "not sustainable"

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Labour Party’s position of resisting his call for a snap election “is not politically sustainable.”

Speaking to ITN’s Robert Peston, the Prime Minister said Labour’s position was “to be so consumed by cowardice as to resist a general election.”

In the interview, Johnson also said he took “no joy” in sacking the Conservative members of parliament who rebelled against his government.

House of Lords braces for a late one

Members of the House of Lords, known as Peers, are getting ready for a very, very long debate.

They will be considering the bill blocking no-deal Brexit which was passed earlier Wednesday by the House of Commons.

The upper chamber of Parliament doesn’t have the power to reject the bill. The Lords can either decide to approve a bill or send it back to the Commons with amendments.

A third option, albeit temporary, is trying to delay the proceedings. And it looks like that’s exactly what some Peers are going for. They have tabled 86 amendments to the bill, a move that the opposition branded a filibuster.

Dick Newby, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, said he was prepared for a long one – arriving to the debate with a duvet, change of clothes and shaving kit no less.

Corbyn: Election only once no-deal is off the table once and for all

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would be happy to support an early election – but not just yet.

In a tweet posted after the government’s defeat in Parliament, Corbyn said the vote can go ahead after no-deal Brexit “is off the table, once and for all.”

Corbyn has been calling for an early vote for months, which begs the question why, when presented with an opportunity to have one, he decided against it.

The simple answer: agreeing to the election on Wednesday would mean following Boris Johnson’s plan.

That’s not something Corbyn was willing to do.

He said he believed that agreeing to the election could have jeopardised the bill stopping no-deal Brexit which the House of Commons passed earlier on Wednesday.

The bill still needs to go through the House of Lords. And while the Lords don’t have the power to reject the bill, they can attempt to delay the proceedings.

Timing is crucial, because Parliament is scheduled to be suspended for five weeks starting next week.

If the bill doesn’t make it through the Lords before the recess, it won’t become a law until after Parliament comes back. Throwing in an election at that time wasn’t something Corbyn was prepared to allow.

EU diplomat: Talking to Johnson is pointless now

European Union leaders have been watching the drama in Westminster – and appear to be as confused as anyone about what is going to happen next.

One EU diplomat told CNN the consensus in Brussels is “we don’t really know where the show is going to go, and what the script is, and what the finale is.”

The diplomat added:

The diplomat said Brussels is aware that the EU is being used as a “backdrop to election campaign” and added that it was pointless talking to Johnson because he currently cannot deliver a deal:

Watch Speaker John Bercow announce the result

Boris Johnson’s government was defeated in its attempt to call an early election.

The government secured more votes – 298 compared to the opposition’s 56 – but that was not enough to push the motion through.

To succeed, Johnson needed at least 434 MPs to vote in favour of the proposed.

BREAKING: Johnson's call for early election rejected

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for a snap election is on hold – at least for now.

The Prime Minister suffered a third major blow in less than 24 hours when lawmakers rejected his motion to dissolve Parliament and call an early election.

Fifty-six lawmakers voted against the motion but with only 298 votes in favour, it failed to reach the required majority of two thirds.

Since becoming Prime Minister in July, Johnson has repeatedly said he didn’t want an early election.

He changed his tune after losing a key battle on Tuesday, when Parliament voted to seize the parliamentary agenda in order to push through a bill outlawing a no-deal Brexit.

That bill was debated and voted through earlier on Wednesday. Johnson said that taking the no deal option off the table means his negotiating position in Brussels would be weakened.

Happening now: Lawmakers voting on whether to hold an early general election

After a short debate, MPs are voting in the House of Commons on a motion tabled by the Government to hold a snap UK election on October 15. Results are expected shortly.

"We are currently in a national crisis"

Labour Party MP Jess Phillips has delivered a long speech in the House of Commons criticising Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for an early election.

She said she will oppose the motion, because she believes the country is facing a national crisis.

“We are currently in a national crisis, this is not a game … the British public, they think we should be in here doing our jobs,” Phillips said.

If you’re wondering why Phillips mentioned “Brenda from Bristol”, it’s a reference to a deep frustration with politics famously expressed by one voter in a 2017 BBC interview.

Asked by a BBC reporter what she thought about the fact that the then-Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early election, the respondent, identified only as Brenda from Bristol, replied: “You’re joking, not another one?”

Her bewilderment appeared to encapsulate the mood of a large part of the public, and she became an internet sensation.

Will there really be a UK election on October 15?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for an early election on Tuesday, October 15. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean British voters will head to the polls any time soon.

That’s because the way British elections are called changed radically in 2011 when the Fixed-term Parliaments Act came into effect.

Until then, it was pretty much up to the prime minister of the day to decide when he or she wanted to hold a vote.

After 2011, that power shifted to Parliament. In order for an early election to happen, it has to be approved by a majority of two-thirds.

Given the current parliamentary arithmetic, Johnson is almost certainly not going to be able to push the motion for an election through.

Veteran lawmaker scolds Boris Johnson

Conservative Party MP Kenneth Clarke has rebuffed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, calling him “disingenuous.”

Clarke, a former chancellor, is the current “Father of the House,” an unofficial title given to the longest serving member of the Commons.

Watch Johnson call for an early election

After failing to defeat a bill blocking no-deal Brexit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for an early election on Tuesday, October 15.

Watch the moment he announces it:

Happening now: Parliament is debating Boris Johnson’s motion on an early election

After a short address from the Prime Minister, lawmakers in the House of Commons are debating whether or not to hold a snap general election on Tuesday, October 15.

Not much love for Boris Johnson

Outside Parliament on Wednesday evening, James Mann, a 24-year-old accountant, said that while he voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, he accepted Brexit would happen. But he said he can’t accept no deal – which is why he has come to the protest outside Parliament.

Commenting on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, he said:

James Mann says he can't accept a no-deal Brexit.

Dirk Lampe, a 53-year-old community worker has even harsher opinion. “Boris is an idiot,” he said.

“After the referendum I assumed there’d be a soft Brexit but they pursued a harder and harder Brexit and now Boris has taken it to a huge level with no authority, no mandate,” Lampe said. He came to the protest with his family.

Nicki Oakes-Monger a 58-year-old teacher said Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament was a “turning point and a clear escalation.”

Dirk and Fiona Lampe (middle), with Nicky Oakes-Monger on the far right.

Johnson calls for election on Tuesday, October 15

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tells lawmakers in the House of Commons that the Government can’t function when Parliament is passing laws “that destroy the ability of government to negotiate.”

Therefore, he says, a new election is necessary, calling for a vote on Tuesday, October 15.

Johnson: Brexit delay bill is designed to overturn referendum

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not happy with the result in the House of Commons where lawmakers have just backed delaying Brexit.

Addressing Parliament straight after his defeat, he said the bill “hands over control” to the European Union.

What happens to the bill next?

Following its approval by the House of Commons, the bill blocking no-deal Brexit is now going to the House of Lords.

The unelected upper chamber of the UK Parliament has limited powers. It can either pass the bill as it is, or send it back to the Commons with amendments.

While the Lords can’t reject the bill, they can attempt to delay the process. It seems like that is likely: the House of Lords has tabled 86 amendments to the bill even ahead of the Commons vote on Wednesday.

Timing is crucial because Parliament is set to be suspended for five weeks starting next week.

BREAKING: House of Commons passes Brexit delay bill

British lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit, in another blow to Prime Minster Boris Johnson.

It cleared the House of Commons by 327 votes to 299.

It now goes to the House of Lords where it will likely face extensive delaying tactics.

Conservative peers, who do not have a majority in the upper house, want to prevent the motion being passed in Wednesday’s session. If they succeed, that could prevent it becoming law before Johnson suspends Parliament early next week.

Wait, what? An amendment just passed by accident

Here’s a surprise. One of the amendments to the bill seeking to block no-deal Brexit has passed through the House of Commons – possibly by accident.

The vote on the amendment was cancelled, because no tellers were available. Tellers are the four MPs who are appointed to verify the count of the votes. Two represent those voting for the debated bill and the other two are there for those voting against.

According to news agency PA, no tellers for the “noes” were put forward. It is unclear whether this was deliberate or an accident.

As for the accidental amendment, it is Labour MP Stephen Kinnock’s amendment, which was put forward by a small group of Labour lawmakers.

It seeks to bring the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by former Prime Minister Theresa May back for another vote in the House of Commons. The deal has previously been rejected by lawmakers three times.

Brexit petition to be debated Monday

An online petition calling on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cancel plans to suspend Parliament will be debated on Monday, according to news agency PA. 

The official petition was posted on the UK Government and Parliament Petitions page shortly after last week’s suspension announcement.

The petition has more than 1.7 million signatures.

Happening now: Parliament is voting to prevent no-deal Brexit

British lawmakers are voting on a bill that would block Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the country out of the European Union without a deal on October 31.

"We must defend our rights"

The protests outside Parliament have attracted people of all ages.

Chris, pictured below right, is a 58-year-old retired teacher who has strong beliefs about the importance of Parliament.

“Ordinary people have only got three things from stopping the full force of the state – civil institutions, a free press and parliament,” he said.

 “All three are precious and we need them – many countries in the world are run by dictators and we are being complacent – we must defend our rights.”

Standing next to him is Margaret, a 70-year-old retired TV producer, who said she was at the protest because she felt that when women won their right to vote, they did so to participate in the parliamentary process.

“That only a hundred years later we have a PM who wants to prorogue [suspend] Parliament and prevent debate about such an important issue … come on women, we have got to go there and show that we really mind about this,” she said.

Trump lends backing to Johnson: "He knows how to win"

US President Donald Trump had some well wishes for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, amid the high-stakes political battle over Brexit.

“Boris is a friend of mine and he’s – he’s going at it there’s no question about it,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a briefing on Hurricane Dorian. “He’s in there fighting.”

President Trump talks to reporters following a briefing from officials about Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office.

Trump continued, saying Johnson “knows how to win.”

“Don’t worry about him. He’s going to be okay,” Trump added, noting that the UK has “a very big stake in the Bahamas,” which has been heavily hit by the storm.

The Bahamas is part of the Commonwealth of Nations but it gained its independence from Britain in the 1970s.

Happening now: MPs are voting on amendments to a bill blocking no-deal Brexit

Debate has ended and British lawmakers are voting on amendments to a bill that would block Prime Minister Boris Johnson from taking the country out of the European Union without a deal on October 31.

Here is what’s going on:

  • The MPs are now voting on amendments to the bill – this is their chance to change the wording of the bill before the final Commons vote.
  • Once that’s done, they will vote on the bill as a whole.

MPs are voting by joining one of the two division lobbies adjacent to the main chamber.

Johnson uses Thatcher insult against Corbyn

Prime Minister Boris Johnson dubbed Jeremy Corbyn “frit and chicken” over the opposition leader’s refusal to support the government’s call for a snap election.

The word “frit” which means frightened was famously used by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1983.

Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Johnson addressed a group of backbench Members of Parliament, known as the 1922 Committee Wednesday, and later told reporters: “I also made it clear that I thought that if Jeremy Corbyn was going to effectively hand over the prerogative of the British to decide how long this country can remain in the EU to the EU, then that was a question that really should be adjudicated by the British people themselves.

“I’m surprised that he seems to be frit and chicken.”

Corbyn has said he would only agree to an election after a law is passed removing the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

Protesters are back -- this time with costumes

Activists from both sides of the Brexit debate have been gathering in front of Parliament for months. But as lawmakers debate a key bill to stop a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday, some of those protesting have dressed for the occasion.

One protester was wearing a Boris Johnson costume during the demonstration.

The bananas sticking out of the protester dressed up as Boris Johnson are presumably a reference to the Prime Minister’s former career as a Brussels correspondent.

He was famous for writing sensational stories about European regulations – such as the one suggesting the bloc was trying to ban bendy bananas, a Euromyth the EU has repeatedly debunked.

Another protestor used the occasion to dress up as Conservative lawmaker Jacob Rees-Mogg. The arch-Brexiteer has been dubbed the “MP for the 18th century” because of his eccentric personality and adoration for traditions.

Another activist dressed up as Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Meet the new rebel: Caroline Spelman

Conservative MP Caroline Spelman has joined the rebellion, voting against her own party in the first stage of the vote on a bill that is seeking to block a no-deal Brexit.

Caroline Spelman has joined the rebellion.

She joined 21 other MPs who voted against Johnson while members of the Conservative Party on Tuesday night and again on Wednesday. The 21 have been sacked for their decision to go against Johnson. It is unclear whether Spelman will face the same fate.

Another Conservative MP, Philip Lee, defected to the Liberal Democrats on Tusday.

What happens next?

In case you were wondering, getting a bill through the UK Parliament is not a simple process.

Lawmakers have just given preliminary approval to the bill that requires the government to seek an extension to article 50 if it does not have a deal for the UK’s exit from the European Union. 

The bill will now move on to the committee stage, where MPs can debate amendments. MPs will then vote on any amendments selected by the Speaker John Bercow. After that, at around 7 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET), there will be a vote on the bill as a whole.

The bill will then move on to the report stage, which gives MPs the chance to further debate the bill, and add more amendments.

MPs will then vote on the third and final reading of the bill, the last chance the House of Commons will get to discuss it – unless the House of Lords decides to amend the bill and send it back to the House of Commons.

Here's some good (well, at least less terrible) Brexit news

The Bank of England (BoE) has delivered a rare piece of “good” news on a no-deal Brexit.

It said the damage to Britain’s economy in a worst-case no-deal Brexit scenario would be smaller than it previously expected, thanks to preparations put in place over the last year.

That said, the picture is still bleak. The bank said GDP would shrink by 5.5% in the worst-case scenario, which is less than the 8% slump it expected last year, but still devastating for jobs, businesses and livelihoods.

The bank said unemployment would jump to 7% and inflation would rise to 5.5%.

In a letter to lawmakers, BoE Governor Mark Carney stressed the bank’s scenarios are just that – scenarios of what could happen rather than forecasts of the most likely outcome.

The Bank of England has scaled back its worst-case scenario predictions.

BREAKING: Bill blocking a no-deal Brexit passes its first stage

The bill that seeks to block Boris Johnson from taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union without a deal has passed the first stage of the approval process in Parliament. (Confusingly, this is known as “second reading”.)

Lawmakers supported the bill by 329 votes to 300.

The bill now passes into what’s called the committee stage, where amendments can be introduced. The second, more important vote is expected after 7 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET).

The result means that the Prime Minister has lost the support of another MP since the vote last night, when it secured 301 votes.

Labour won't support a snap election

The Labour Party will not support the government’s call for a snap election if the bill barring a no-deal Brexit is passed by Parliament, shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told lawmakers.

“We will not be voting with the government tonight and we will keep our focus with the task at hand which is to ensure that we do not leave the EU without a deal,” Starmer said.

Labour will not support Johnson's call for a snap election, Keir Starmer said.

Labour is the largest opposition party in the UK. And while its leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly called for an election in the past few months, he said he would only agree to one after a law is passed removing the risk of a no-deal Brexit.

Hammond says it's "impossible" for