British Parliament passes amendment to delay Brexit decision

British Parliament passes amendment to delay Brexit decision
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The British Parliament on Saturday passed a measure to delay a decision on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, dealing a blow to the British leader and complicating government plans to leave the European Union at the end of October.

The Parliament advanced the amendment at the last minute, halting support for Johnson's agreement until legislation is passed to prevent a no-deal exit from the EU. Johnson had pushed for lawmakers to support his plan in a vote schedule for Saturday.

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The amendment passed by a vote of 322 to 306. It was proposed by Oliver Letwin, a member of the British Parliament who was kicked out of Johnson's Conservative Party last month for backing a law to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

The amendment says that the House of Commons “withholds approval” of the Brexit deal “unless and until implementing legislation is passed.”

A senior government source told CNN earlier Saturday that if the amendment passed, the government would shelve the vote on the main deal.

"Alas, the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up," Johnson said after the vote. "The meaningful vote has been voided of meaning."

"I'm not daunted or dismayed by this particular result," he added. "The best thing for the U.K. and for the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on Oct. 31."

The House of Commons later said in a tweet that Johnson must now act to request an extension of the Oct. 31 exit deadline to leave the EU.

The Associated Press reported that the prime minister implied he would follow the requirement and ask for a three-month delay while arguing against it.

"I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so," he said.

"Further delay will be bad for this country," he added.

Lawmakers warned that Johnson would face a legal challenge if he did not ask for the extension.

“Any failure of a prime minister who thinks he is above the law — well, prime minister, you’ll find yourself in court,” Parliament member Ian Blackford said, according to the AP.

The political drama came as thousands of protesters marched in London on Saturday to demand a second referendum on whether the U.K. should leave the EU, as Britain continues to grapple with the 2016 referendum that first called for a Brexit.

The New York Times reported that Letwin actually supports Johnson's Brexit deal but has argued that the amendment will prevent pro-Brexit hard-liners from sabotaging the deal's enactment and forcing a no-deal split.

Johnson has promised to introduce enactment legislation for his Brexit agreement next week, according to the BBC.

Johnson is a staunch Brexit supporter who assumed the prime minister role in July with the vow to remove the U.K. from the European bloc by the Oct. 31 deadline. He has pushed for the U.K. to leave the EU with or without a deal. 

Johnson had implored members of Parliament earlier Saturday to pass the deal that he secured with the EU this week.

"Now is the time for this great House of Commons to come together and bring the country together today," he said.

Johnson called a further delay "pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust."

EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva tweeted after the vote that it will now be up to the U.K. government "to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible."

Updated: 12:21 p.m.