British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside Downing Street in London, England, September 5, 2019. (Simon Dawson/Reuters)His hands are tied by Parliament, but perhaps not completely.
A coalition of Labour, Liberal Democratic, and Conservative rebels voted last week to force U.K. prime minister Boris Johnson to extend the deadline for the British exit from the European Union from October 31 to Jan. 31, 2020. As an alternative, the bill stipulates that the prime minister must accept whatever other exit date the European Union’s representatives propose and the House of Commons accepts. Johnson responded by removing from the Conservative party the 21 Tory rebels who voted for the so-called Benn-Burt bill, including luminaries such as Kenneth Clarke, the longest-serving member of Parliament, and Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill. Jo Johnson, the prime minister’s brother, preemptively resigned, and now Amber Rudd has resigned as a member of Johnson’s cabinet. Johnson also called for a general election under the norm that defeat of a key measure of the government triggers a call for new political leadership. He was refused by Parliament, which under the 2011 Fixed-term Parliaments Act must provide a two-thirds assent to such a plea. The prime minister has lost his