Boris Johnson has faced a double defeat in the Commons after MPs turned down his motion for a general election.
Earlier, MPs backed a bill aimed at blocking a no-deal Brexit if the PM hadn’t agreed a plan with the EU ahead of the 31 October deadline.
There may be further twists and turns in the plot to come, but tonight it looks likely that Hilary Benn’s bill to block a no-deal Brexit will be passed by the Commons on Wednesday evening. There are certainly enough “rebel alliance” votes to pass it – the only question is whether there are other devices the government can deploy to stop it. If it is passed, it will complete all its Commons stages in a few hours, and will then go to the House of Lords, which is also likely to pass it, although how long that will take no one knows.
In a defiant response to tonight’s vote, Johnson said that, although he doesn’t want a general election, “if this bill is passed tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on 17 October”.
That means he will ask MPs to vote for an election, probably on 15 October, by the two-thirds majority required by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. That vote is expected to take place on Wednesday evening, as soon as the Benn bill passes the Commons.