By Lucia Suarez Sang
Published October 22, 2019
The United Kingdom’s divorce from the European Union passed one major hurdle Tuesday when Parliament lawmakers approved Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill but hit a roadblock moments later when a three-day timetable was voted down.
The House of Commons passed the Withdrawal Agreement Bill by a 30-point majority, with the ayes getting 329 votes, over 299 by the Noes, sending the bill on for further scrutiny and possible amendments. Then lawmakers quickly voted down Johnson’s a three-day timetable, attempting to fast-track the bill through, by a 14-point margin.
The vote likely made it impossible for Johnson to fulfill his vow to take Britain out of the EU by the Oct. 31 deadline.
After the second vote, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that lawmakers “refused to be bounced” into considering the withdrawal bill in just two days.
He urged the prime minister to “work with us … to agree [on] a reasonable timetable.”
The votes came hours after Johnson threatened to put the brakes on the withdrawal bill and call for a snap election before Christmas if lawmakers continued to stonewall his push to pass the legislation before the deadline. Following the defeat of the timetable vote, Johnson made no mention of an election.
After Tuesday’s crucial votes, Johnson said the government will “pause” the withdrawal agreement bill, saying that the EU must now make up their own minds as to how to respond to his request for a three-month Brexit delay – which was forced upon him last week by lawmakers.
Johnson, who rebuked Parliament for "voting to delay" Brexit once again then said his government will accelerate plans for a "no-deal" Brexit in light of the defeat. He did not reply to Corbyn's offer to allow the bill to be debated at a slower pace than the government's fast-track plan.
Johnson negotiated and agreed on his new plan with European leaders last week - despite repeatedly saying the United Kingdom would leave by the end of October, with or without a deal. Last Saturday, he failed to win Parliament's backing for it, forcing Johnson to begrudgingly ask the EU for a three-month delay to Britain's departure.
Ahead of Tuesday's vote, he urged lawmakers to pass the bill to "turn the page and allow this Parliament and this country to begin to heal and unite."
"If we pass this bill tonight we will have the opportunity to address the priorities not just of our relations with the EU, but the people's priorities at home," he said. "If we do this deal, if we pass this deal and the legislation that enables it, we can turn the page and allow this country and this parliament to begin to heal and unite."
The 115-page document set out the terms of Britain's departure from the 28-nation bloc, including measures to maintain an open border between the U.K.'s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. It also enshrined the right of U.K. and EU citizens living in the other's territory to continue with their lives, and set out the multi-billion dollar payments Britain must make to meet its financial obligations to the EU.
It also confirmed a transition period lasting until at least the end of 2020 — and possibly 2022 — in which relations would remain frozen while a permanent new relationship was worked out.
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted late Tuesday he will recommend that the EU grant Britain's request for an extension to the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. Without elaborating, Tusk said he will propose a written procedure for the delay.
Fox News' Bradford Betz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.