Although MPs approved Boris Johnson’s bill during a second reading this week, they rejected his accelerated timetable, saying they needed more time to review the lengthy document.
Moreover, during the debate, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, pointed out more problems with the legally-binding bill, including withdrawing workers’ rights and environmental standards, saying Mr. Johnson had delayed his own withdrawal bill.
MPs also passed the Letwin amendment, which left the premiere with no option but to send a request for an extension to the EU. (Mr. Johnson also sent a follow-up letter to the EU explaining why the body should reject the extension)
Frustrated, the PM decided to “pause” the legislation following his defeat in parliament.
Mr. Johnson is now waiting on the EU’s decision on whether to grant an extension. But the request is widely expected to be approved, much to the prime minister’s dismay.
Downing Street, in the meantime, is preparing for follow up scenarios, though with a divided cabinet. Half of the prime minister’s cabinet is calling for a pre-Christmas election, while the other half is expressing approval to go ahead with the Brexit deal if the EU grants an extension.
The prime minister has been warned of the likelihood that voters who approved the second reading of his bill may withdraw their support later in the process.
Many are saying, however, that Mr. Johnson’s best moment to win an election is now, as a majority of Conservative MPs fill parliament.
If it secures a two-thirds majority – which appears likely, with Labour preparing to back it – election day would be held five weeks after parliament is dissolved, just in time for Christmas.
The frustration is all Boris Johnson’s as he waits for the EU’s decision on an extension, which essentially will decide the prime minister’s fate on the future of the UK.