UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson won Parliament’s backing for the substance of his Brexit deal but lost a key vote on its timing, a result that inches him closer to his goal of leading his country out of the European Union but effectively guarantees it won’t happen on the scheduled date of Oct. 31.
The good news for the prime minister was that lawmakers for the first time since Britons chose in 2016 to leave the EU voted in principle for a Brexit plan, backing by 329-299 a bill to implement the agreement Johnson struck with the EU last week.
But minutes later, legislators rejected his fast-track timetable to pass the bill, saying they needed more time to scrutinize it. The vote went 322-308 against the government.
With the Brexit deadline looming, Johnson last week grudgingly asked the bloc for three more months to comply with a law passed by Parliament ordering the government to postpone Brexit rather than risk the economic damage that could come from a no-deal exit.
Any delay will still require the agreement of all of the other 27 EU member states, and they are deeply weary of the long-running Brexit saga.
After the votes, many lawmakers urged Johnson to push ahead with the bill after securing a delay to Brexit. Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn encouraged the prime minister to “work with us all of use to agree a reasonable timetable” for its passage.