UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on Thursday for an early election after a flurry of parliamentary votes tore up his hardline Brexit strategy and left him without a majority.
His government said it would make a second attempt on Monday to trigger the national polls after the opposition Labour party on Wednesday helped block Johnson’s first bid.
“It is now time for the people to decide after parliament has failed them so we can resolve this once and for all,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
The vote’s timing is still being debated as the country hurtles toward an October 31 departure from the European Union without a plan for what comes next.
The prime minister was dealt a further personal blow when his brother Jo said he was quitting his junior ministerial role and not contesting his seat in parliament in the new ballot.
“I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest — it’s an unresolvable tension & time for others to take on my roles,” Jo Johnson tweeted.
– ‘No real negotiations’ –
Parliament is rushing through legislation designed to keep Johnson from breaking Britain off from its closest trading partners without a negotiated agreement with Brussels.
MPs appeared on course to do so by Monday — a victory that would be accomplished just ahead of a five-week shutdown of parliament that Johnson controversially ordered at the end of last month.
The pound surged to a one-month high against the dollar on rising market hopes of a chaotic breakup being avoided next month.
The parliamentary bill forces Johnson to seek a three-month Brexit extension until January 31 should an EU summit in Brussels on October 17-18 fail to produce a deal.
It passed the lower House of Commons with the support of 21 rebel Conservative MPs — who were promptly kicked out of the party.
The upper House of Lords ended an all-night filibuster by Johnson’s supporters early on Thursday and agreed to finish voting on the bill by Friday night.
The bill could end up back in the House of Commons on Monday for it to consider any changes.
It would then go to Queen Elizabeth II for final approval.
Johnson rose to power in July on a pledge to deliver Brexit next month — “deal or no deal” — and refuses to seek a delay.
There is also no guarantee that the other 27 EU leaders will grant one for the third time this year.
“We can see that another six months would not solve the problem,” France’s European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said on Thursday.
Greens European Parliament leader Philippe Lamberts said after a meeting with EU negotiators on Wednesday: “For all the PM’s bluster about getting a deal, there are no real negotiations going on in Brussels.”