Brexit in chaos after MPs defeat timetable bill

A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament's Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking after the program motion setting out the proposed timetable for the Brexit withdrawal Agreement Bill was defeated in a vote in the House of Commons in London on Tuesday. — AFP

LONDON — Britain's departure from the European Union was thrown into chaos on Tuesday after parliament rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's extremely tight timetable for ratifying his exit deal.

Johnson said Tuesday he will pause efforts to pass his Brexit deal, after MPs gave their preliminary approval for it but rejected his timetable to push it through parliament this week.

"We will pause this legislation," Johnson told lawmakers, adding he would consult with European Union leaders about a further Brexit delay but insisting Britain should still leave the bloc as scheduled on Oct. 31.

Johnson will hold conversations with other EU leaders on Tuesday to determine what their next steps are after parliament rejected his proposed timetable, his spokesman said.

Earlier, Johnson said he would end an attempt to win parliamentary approval for the legislation that would enable Britain to leave the European Union and instead press for an election if lawmakers rejected the timetable.

Ahead of the vote, Johnson had warned parliament that if it defeated him on the timetable and forced a delay until January then he would abandon his attempt to ratify the deal and push for an election instead under the slogan of "Get Brexit Done".

Johnson was on Saturday forced by opponents into the humiliation of asking the EU for a delay beyond Oct. 31 that he had vowed he would never seek. The European Council president Donald Tusk said he is taking the request seriously.

Lawmakers voted 322 to 308 against the so-called Program Motion, which set out a three-day schedule to rush his deal through the House of Commons.

Earlier, lawmakers voted 329 to 299 in favor 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.

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. — Reuters