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British PM to call general election after defeat in parliament

British Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson announced Tuesday night he would be calling a general election if Members of Parliament (MPs) vote for a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday.

Johnson’s dramatic statement came after MPs voted by 328 to 321 to put forward an emergency bill on Wednesday to block him from taking Britain out of the European Union (EU) on October 31 without a deal.

Johnson said if MPs vote for the no deal bill, the only way forward would be for the people to decide.  

He said: “Let there be no doubt Parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal with Brussels.”

An election could take place on October 14, but no potential date has yet been agreed.

Addressing a packed House of Commons, Johnson said he does not want an election, but if MPs vote for the no-deal bill on Wednesday, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on October 17.

“If Jeremy Corbyn (the Labour leader) goes to Brussels, he will do what the European Union (EU) wants,” he said, adding that if he goes, he will get a deal from the EU.

Rebel Conservative MPs had been warned ahead of the vote they would be kicked out of the party if they voted against the government.

But it was confirmed by Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom that the rebels would be given a second chance to vote with the government during the Wednesday debate.

If they are suspended from the party, it would prevent them from standing as Conservatives in the general election.

During a day of high drama, as MPs returned to Westminster after their long summer break, Johnson suffered a blow when one of the Conservative MPs, Phillip Lee, defected to the minority Liberal Democrats.

His departure from the Conservative benches meant Johnson’s government no longer has even its majority of one in the House of Commons.

If the emergency no deal bill passes through both houses of parliament and receives Royal consent from Queen Elizabeth this week, it will halt Britain’s planned departure from the EU on October 31 unless there is a deal between Britain and Brussels.

Supports say the move is seen as potentially the last opportunity for MPs to prevent Britain leaving without a deal. As MPs debated, hundreds of protesters chanting “stop the coup” marched past the Houses of Parliament. –Xinhua

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