U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson lost yet another crucial vote aimed and moving his recently-agreed Brexit deal closer to full Parliamentary approval, setting up the possibility of a fresh national election to break the country's years-long deadlock on how and when to leave the European Union.
Lawmakers rejected a so-called Programme Motion that would have set a three-day timetable for Johnson's Withdrawl Agreement Bill (WBA), which the Prime Minister put in place in order to find a way to have Britain exit the European Union by October 31, a date he has established since taking over as leader of the Conservative Party in July.
The pound retreated quickly following Johnson's defeat, falling 0.9% from session highs to trade at 1.2883 against the U.S. dollar.
�������� @EU_Commission takes note of tonight's result and expects the U.K. government to inform us about the next steps. @eucopresident is consulting leaders on the UK's request for an extension until 31 January 2020.— Mina Andreeva (@Mina_Andreeva) October 22, 2019
Johnson said he would "pause" the WBA legislation until he can speak with EU leaders to establish whether they will grant an extension to Britain's October 31 exit date. After which, Johnson said, he will report back to Parliament.
Johnson did, however, win a narrow victory earlier in the evening as lawmakers opted to pass a so-called 'second reading' of his bill "in principle", a move that allows his to claim that his Brexit deal has been accepted by the House.
However, lawmakers have asked for more time to fully debate the details of the 115 pages of legislation, which predicated the Programme Motion vote and Johnson's latest defeat.