UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to pull the country out of the European Union by Oct. 31, with or without an agreed-upon exit deal.
But on Tuesday, he suffered a big defeat in Parliament as opponents of his plan seized control of the Brexit agenda in a 328-to-301 vote.
A new bill, seeking to prevent Britain from leaving the European Union without a deal by the end of October, will be introduced Wednesday.
Opposition to Johnson's exit plan has been long-brewing. Member of Parliament Phillip Lee defected to the Liberal Democrats early this week, causing Conservative Johnson to lose his slim working majority in the House of Commons.
Lee said the U.K. government was pursuing Brexit in “damaging” and “unprincipled” ways that would put “lives and livelihoods at risk.” His decision was met with applause.
And in a letter to the newly appointed prime minister, Lee said Brexit divisions “sadly transformed this once great party into something more akin to a narrow faction in which one's Conservatism is measured by how recklessly one wants to leave the European Union. ... It has become infected by the twin diseases of English nationalism and populism.”
Film producer and “Love Actually” actor Hugh Grant shared that sentiment: “You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend,” he said in a profanity-laced tweet, going on to call the prime minister a "rubber bath toy."
“Britain is revolted by you," he continued.
Until recently, Johnson insisted there was “real momentum” behind Brexit talks, per the BBC, and issued an ultimatum to deter any defectors, cautioning them to vote for his exit plan or effectively get booted from the party.
But a wave of opposition slowed that momentum. Many officials, including former Tory Parliamentary Member Sarah Wollaston, crossed party lines to stop Johnson’s plan.
Johnson said Parliamentary members’ resistance to his plan would “destroy any chance of negotiating a new deal” and that he would push for a general election on Oct. 14 if they are successful in passing no-deal legislation.