Boris Johnson’s list of losses is getting longer.
A total of 299 MPs voted in favor of the election; 70 voted against it, and large numbers of MPs abstained, meaning it failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority.
Speaking immediately after the result was announced, Johnson said his Government would introduce a short bill calling for an election on December 12.
Such a bill would require a simple majority, rather than the two-thirds required by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, and could effectively override the current election law.
However, there are two issues with that approach: Johnson doesn’t have a majority in the House of Commons, because he fired 21 MPs after they voted against him in early September. Others have resigned.
Another problem: Just like any legislation in Parliament, a one-line bill will be open to amendments. Johnson runs the risk that the opposition could team up with Conservative rebels to change the bill in ways that could potentially hurt him. The Liberal Democrats and the SNP have already suggested lowering the voting age to 16, which they could try to force through an amendment.
The Liberal Democrats also announced their own plan to introduce another bill calling for an election on Tuesday. They want the early election to happen on Monday, December 9.
The move is likely motivated at least in part by the party’s desire to target student voters, who would be heading home for vacation at the end of the week, making a December 12 vote tricky. Students and younger voters are an important source of support for the party, and many are registered to vote at their term-time addresses.
Johnson said that the new Parliament would meet before Christmas, giving it some extra time to deal with Brexit before the new year — and the new January 31 departure deadline.
A Downing Street source told CNN the Brexit deal that Johnson agreed with Brussels will not be brought back to Parliament while lawmakers debate the early election. Lawmakers have rejected the deal earlier this month.
Labour had said ahead of the vote that it would not agree to an election until a no-deal Brexit is “off the table.” Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn did not clarify exactly what would have to be done to satisfy that requirement.
European leaders announced Monday they would grant the UK a three-month Brexit extension, averting a no-deal split on Halloween but extending the political saga into next year.
The bloc’s 27 remaining leaders agreed to a “flextension” until January 2020, Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council, tweeted on Monday.
The delay — the third granted by the EU this year — will be cut short if Johnson passes his exit deal before then. However, it does not remove the risk of a no-deal Brexit in case he fails to pass the deal.