September 6, 2019 / 2:43 PM / 2 months ago

Britain's parliament approves law seeking to block October no-deal Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - The British parliament’s upper chamber on Friday approved a bill which aims to block a no-deal Brexit at the end of October by forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a delay to Britain’s European Union departure.

The legislation, which requires Johnson to ask for a three-month extension to Britain’s EU membership if parliament has not approved either a deal or consented to leaving without agreement by Oct. 19, is expected to be signed into law by Queen Elizabeth on Monday.

The House of Lords approved the bill without a formal vote at its final stage.

Johnson has dubbed it the “surrender bill” and said it has scuppered his Brexit negotiations with the EU by removing the threat of leaving without a deal. On Thursday he said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than delay Britain’s EU exit.

He kicked 21 lawmakers out of his Conservative Party’s parliamentary group earlier this week for working with opposition parties in the House of Commons to pass the legislation against the government’s wishes.

Johnson says Britain must now hold a national election on Oct. 15 to let voters decide who they want to negotiate Britain’s EU exit at a summit in Brussels later that week.

Opposition parties have so far rejected his call for an election, which would require the backing of two-thirds of the lower chamber’s 650 lawmakers, saying they are not willing to let him dictate the timing of such a vote.

Labour had originally said they would support an election once the bill to prevent a no-deal Brexit at the end of October had become law, but now it says it wants to see the delay to Brexit secured before an election is held.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Michael Holden

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