Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempt to fast-track a Brexit law through parliament, was rejected by the British parliament. It made a delay beyond the October 31 exit date almost inevitable and casting the entire EU divorce into doubt. 

Johnson after accepting a last-minute Brexit deal with the EU last week was trying to pass a domestic law needed to enact it. The Withdrawal Agreement Bill, comprising 100-page, would be examined over weeks and months but Johnson said to decrease the timetable to just a few days. 

On Tuesday, the proposal was rejected by 322 votes to 308. With the defeat, it becomes more difficult for Johnson to find a way to deliver his Brexit deal on time. Failing the election on the timetable does not kill the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, but does make its passage before October 31 highly unlikely.

Johnson was forced by the parliament to send a letter on Saturday requesting the EU a three-month delay to Brexit. Though Johnson was unwilling to sign the letter. Johnson has clearly stated that he does not want an extension and that he would pause the legislation while the EU decides on the delay request. 

If a new program motion is agreed by the parliament, the legislative process could be restarted and if the process resumes, the government will still have to see off attempts to amend the bill, potentially changing the terms of Britain’s withdrawal. 

The MPs have proposed changes adding in a requirement for a second referendum and forcing the government to seek a long-term customs union with the EU. Lawmakers have suggested changes including adding in a requirement for a second referendum and forcing the government to seek a long-term customs union with the EU.

Johnson said: “The EU must now make up their minds over how to answer parliament’s request for a delay.”

“I will speak to EU member states about their intentions. Until they have reached a decision we will pause this legislation. Let me be clear, our policy remains that we should not delay,” he added.

“The government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome,” he further claimed.

Earlier, Johnson had warned lawmakers that he would quit the legislation if the EU decides to delay Brexit until January 31, 2020. However, he has stated he would ditch the bill if the EU granted a shorter extension.

These give chances that the EU agrees to a short extension to allow parliament more time to scrutinize the bill and Johnson proposes a new slightly longer timetable to lawmakers. This will also break Johnson’s “do or die” pledge to leave the EU on October 21, but could still allow him to say in a subsequent election campaign that he had delivered Brexit.

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