The British Parliament on Saturday passed an amendment delaying a vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s European Union withdrawal deal and avoiding a no-deal Brexit at the end of the month.
Parliament members voted 322-306 in favor of the Letwin amendment, which forces Johnson to ask the European Union for an extension on the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.
The vote came during a meeting in which Johnson sought a vote on his Brexit deal. The meeting, coined “super Saturday,” was the first time Parliament has met on a weekend since the Falkland War between Britain and Argentina in 1982.
Johnson warned he may ignore the amendment because the best thing for Britain would be to leave the European Union with a deal Oct. 31.
“I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so,” he said. “Further delay will be bad for this country.
“Alas, the opportunity to have a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up.”
The meeting was held amid a march in opposition to Johnson’s deal in London.
Democratic Unionist Party member Sammy Wilson suggested the party’s MPs would back the Oliver Letwin Amendment, which would withhold approval of Johnson’s deal until Parliament passes legislation required to implement Johnson’s plan.
MP Chris Grayling warned that passage of the Letwin amendment may delay the vote again.
If Johnson’s deal had passed, the vote could have been the most significant step towards Brexit since British voters approved a referendum to leave the European Union three years ago.
His predecessor, Theresa May, repeatedly failed to pass a Brexit proposal.
May’s deal featured a safety net clause to save Britain from a no-deal Brexit. Johnson’s deal doesn’t have that clause.
Johnson’s deal also maintains some European Union rules in Northern Ireland, which critics fear could spark sectarian violence.
Saturday’s debate came as tens of thousands marched outside in opposition at a People’s Vote March, demanding a “final say” in the vote.
The People’s Vote campaign organizers are asking supporters to sign a letter to Boris Johnson and other leaders asking them to allow “the chance to check whether we want to proceed with Brexit.”