By William James, Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper
LONDON (Reuters) – The British parliament backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in an important legislative stage on Tuesday, but was still to vote on his extremely tight timetable for carrying it through the rest of the necessary stages to become law.
Lawmakers voted 329 to 299 in favour of the second reading of his 115-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill, a significant boost for Johnson just five days after he struck a last-minute deal with the EU.
The vote now propells the legislation to another stage at which his opponents can ambush the government with amendments that could wreck the essence of his deal by demanding a much closer post-Brexit relationship with the EU.
Lawmakers would next vote on Johnson’s legislative timetable, which his opponents say allows too little time to debate the measure.
Earlier on Tuesday, Johnson said that if parliament failed to support his timetable, forcing a delay of Brexit, then he would abandon his attempt to ratify the deal and push for an election instead.
(Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, William James, Paul Sandle, Kate Holton, Alistair Smout and Stephen Addison in London and John Chalmers in Brussels; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Peter Graff)