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Boris Johnson Faces Brexit Showdown With Hostile Lawmakers


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Boris Johnson Faces Brexit Showdown With Hostile Lawmakers

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-lawmakers-seek-to-delay-brexit-again-dealing-johnson-another-blow-11567602853?mod=hp_lead_pos4

LONDON—British lawmakers voted Wednesday to again delay Brexit, frustrating Prime Minister

Boris Johnson

in his signature effort to take Britain out of the European Union at the end of October and setting the stage for a general election this fall.

The defeat for Mr. Johnson’s minority government significantly reduces the chances that the U.K. will leave the bloc abruptly on Oct. 31 without a deal to reduce expected economic disruption.

But the political maneuvering ahead over a date for the election—and the fact that a no-deal exit has only been postponed rather than ruled out permanently—ensure further political and economic uncertainty for Europe’s second-largest economy.

Lawmakers voted 327 to 299 in favor of a proposal that requires the government to seek a three-month extension to the Brexit deadline if it can’t agree with the EU, by Oct. 19, on new terms for separation that meet Parliament’s approval. The U.K. is currently scheduled to leave Oct. 31.

The decision still needs the approval of Parliament’s House of Lords, where some members are bringing in bedclothes in anticipation of a dayslong slog toward a vote.

Mr. Johnson has already vowed not to comply, saying further delay would be an affront to voters who chose to exit the EU in a referendum in 2016. Britain’s withdrawal, originally scheduled for March 29, has already been postponed twice.

Deeper Down

After a serious loss in Parliament, the Conservative party expelled 21 members.

Seats by party in the U.K. Parliament

96

Independent

and other

parties

10

Democratic Unionist Party

Seats by party in the U.K. Parliament

96

Independent

and other

parties

10

Democratic Unionist Party

Seats by party in the U.K. Parliament

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96

Independent

and other

parties

10

Democratic Unionist Party

Seats by party in the U.K. Parliament

96

Independent

and other parties

Democratic Unionist Party

The standoff between Parliament and prime minister sets the U.K. on course toward its third nationwide poll in four years.

Mr. Johnson is pushing for a snap general election on Oct. 15 and was expected to ask lawmakers to back his election call later Wednesday. He needs a two-third majority of the House of Commons for an election to be scheduled in accordance with his wishes.

But opposition lawmakers are resistant to approving a vote, fearing that a snap poll could give Mr. Johnson an opening to reimpose an Oct. 31 split without any deal. Many instead favor holding a vote after Brexit is delayed, possibly in November.

Mr. Johnson needs to reboot his premiership after sacking 21 Conservative Party lawmakers on Tuesday night. They were kicked out of the party after voting against his government out of concern over a no-deal exit. Having lost his majority, Mr. Johnson needs a convincing new mandate to deliver on his promise to leave the EU.

Since Mr. Johnson took over in July, his party has seen a fillip in opinion polls, opening up a lead against the main opposition Labour Party, and many of his supporters believe he is a good campaigner. But party-political preferences have been volatile, and the party’s weakness in Scotland and other anti-Brexit areas means it will have to fare better elsewhere than it did in the last election in 2017.

Share Your Thoughts

What do you think would be Boris Johnson’s best strategy going forward? Join the conversation below.

In a sign the government is gearing up for an election, U.K. Treasury chief

Sajid Javid

on Wednesday laid out a suite of voter-friendly spending pledges, including funding to hire an extra 20,000 police officers and cash for schools and hospitals.

Mr. Javid said progress on eliminating a persistent budget deficit and record-low interest rates mean the treasury can afford to borrow more to finance extra spending on public services and new infrastructure.

“We can now afford to turn the page on austerity,” he said.

Mr. Javid also announced a £2 billion ($2.4 billion) package to hire border patrol staff and revamp port infrastructure to prepare for the U.K.’s split from the EU.

Write to Jason Douglas at jason.douglas@wsj.com

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