It was two defeats in one night for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday (September 4), as UK lawmakers backed a bill forcing his government to ask Brussels for a three-month delay to Brexit... (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, JOHN BERCOW, SAYING: "The ayes have it" ...whilst also blocking his attempt to call the early election that could untie his hands.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, JOHN BERCOW, SAYING: "... the motion has not obtained the majority required." But after a feisty day in British politics... (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "There's only one 'chlorinated chicken' that I can see in this house, and he's on that bench." ... and the high stakes political maneuvering is not over yet.
Johnson has said he will take the UK out of the EU on October 31 - with or without a divorce deal.
Having wrested control of the parliamentary agenda from Johnson on Tuesday (September 3), the House of Commons backed the delay bill that would prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson's opponents fear a chaotic exit from the bloc would dislocate trade and travel, damage the economy and cause shortages of food, fuel and medicines - a view that anti-Brexit activists beamed onto the UK's Angel of the North landmark on Tuesday evening.
Johnson claims he needs the threat of a no-deal to secure concessions from Brussels, and said he would refuse to comply by the delay bill.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON, SAYING: "I refuse to do this, Mr Speaker, and it's clear that there is therefore only one way forward for the country" That's why the prime minister proposed a general election on October 15.
Lawmakers rejected that proposal, even though opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn says he relishes the prospect.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY LEADER, JEREMY CORBYN, SAYING: "Let this bill pass and gain royal assent, then we will back an election so we do not crash out with a no-deal exit from the European Union." If parliament does agree to hold a snap election there are three likely outcomes: a pro-Brexit government under Johnson, a Labour government under Corbyn who has promised a fresh referendum including the option of staying in the EU, and a hung parliament.
What that all means is that the outcome of the UK's Brexit odyssey remains up in the air with possible outcomes ranging from a no deal exit to abandoning the whole endeavor - both outcomes that would be unacceptable to swathes of British voters.