UK braces for general election after rebel Tories enable a government defeat

By Shayan Shakir

Boris Johnson suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Commons last night.

Twenty-one Conservative rebels voted with opposition MPs to seize control of the parliamentary timetable, in order for a bill created by Labour backbencher Hilary Benn to be introduced. This bill aims to block a no-deal Brexit, as it would force the prime minister to ask for an extension on article 50 if he fails to agree a new deal with the EU.

The Tory government had already lost its parliamentary majority after Conservative MP Phillip Lee crossed the chamber to join the Liberal Democrats earlier in the day. Their numbers will be reduced even further after Downing Street confirmed that the 21 rebels who voted against the government will also be stripped of the Tory whip, sacking them from the party.

In the vote last night, the opposition secured a majority of 27, with the government losing 328 to 301.

After the vote Johnson said he was not prepared to carry out the delay of Article 50, stating it will “hand control of the negotiations to the EU”.

Announcing that the government would take steps to seek a general election instead, he added: “The people of this country will have to choose.”

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