Lawmakers in the United Kingdom advanced legislation Wednesday that would prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson from letting the country leave the European Union without a formal deal.
The House of Commons approved a bill designed to avoid a “no deal” Brexit in a 327-299 vote. The legislation now heads to the House of Lords.
The vote was a significant defeat for Johnson, who has seen his agenda face fierce opposition from lawmakers who are fearful that a “no deal” Brexit could have catastrophic economic consequences for the U.K.
A day earlier, lawmakers passed a bill allowing members to introduce legislation that would force Johnson to ask the EU for a three-month extension if a deal isn’t reached by the current Brexit deadline of Oct. 31. Twenty-one members of the governing Conservative Party defied Johnson by approving the bill.
Johnson responded by calling for snap general elections. The formal request would have to be approved by two-thirds of the House of Commons.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he would not agree to a new election until legislation passes guaranteeing Britain will not leave the EU without a deal in place.
Fifty-two percent of British voters supported a referendum in 2016 to leave the EU. But the government has struggled to formulate a transition plan.
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Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa MayTheresa Mary MayTrump backs Boris Johnson amid setbacks: He ‘knows how to win’ UK Parliament advances Brexit bill in second blow to Boris Johnson in 24 hours Boris Johnson criticized by parliament after losing majority MORE, announced her resignation as prime minister in late May after failing to garner support for her Brexit plan. Johnson, a staunch advocate for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, came into power vowing to leave the EU even if a formal deal had not been reached.
–Updated at 3:35 p.m.