Boris Johnson's Brexit plans in tatters after losing key vote

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By Patrick Smith  with NBC News World News
Image: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to deliver a speech o
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to deliver a speech outside Downing Street in London on Sept. 2, 2019.   -   Copyright  Henry Nicholls

LONDON — Britain will have to wait to leave the European Union.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost a key vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday after lawmakers used an obscure procedural motion to wrest control of the parliamentary agenda from the government in a bid to stop a "no deal" Brexit.

The vote was 328-301, with several members of Johnson's Conservative Party rebelling and supporting the motion. They can now expect to be kicked out of the party.

Senior party figures, including former chancellor Philip Hammond, were among those who backed the motion. This means opposition members of Parliament and a handful of rebels from the ruling Conservative party can now introduce legislation to postpone Brexit beyond the Oct. 31 deadline.

The rebels acted to stop a so-called no deal exit, where the U.K. would have no official ongoing agreements with the E.U., something critics have predicted will cause economic havoc.

The vote was perhaps the most dramatic moment since Britain voted to leave the E.U. in June 2016. Since then, British politics has been paralyzed and obsessed with the question of how the country should leave the bloc.

Most observers now expect the government to call for a snap election in October in order to win a mandate for a "no deal" scenario in case an agreement can't be made with the E.U.

However, it is unclear whether the opposition Labour Party, currently trailing in the polls, will agree to back an early election. The next election is scheduled for 2020, but the prime minister can ask Parliament to back one before then, a move that would require two thirds of the 650 lawmakers to agree.