Boris Johnson suffers Brexit vote defeat

Boris Johnson clashes with Parliament over Brexit

Last Updated Sep 4, 2019 7:17 PM EDT

London — Great Britain has been mesmerized by the debate over Brexit. Everyone knew that breaking up with Europe would be hard to do, but the battle has taken a few strange turns.

Parliament, in the world's oldest democracy, saw a pitched battle this week.

Between Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his own lawmakers, he has vowed to take Britain out of the European Union by Halloween — with or without a trade agreement.

But many members of Parliament are frankly terrified of this so-called "no-deal Brexit." Fearing it would cause chaos and even food shortages, they rebelled and tied the prime minister's hands with a law that takes the no-deal option off the table.

Johnson retaliated and expelled from his own party all the MP's who crossed him, including Winston Churchill's grandson Nicholas Soames.

"In my view and the view of this government, there must now be an election on Tuesday the 15th of October," Johnson said Wednesday in Parliament.

But so poisonous is the atmosphere at Parliament, it is now going to block that call by the prime minister to hold an election, leaving plenty of anger and frustration — but no clear way forward.

Britain — Brexit
An anti-Brexit protester with a composite Union and EU flag is seen on Parliament Square outside the Houses of Parliament in central London on Sept. 4, 2019. Getty
  • Elizabeth Palmer
    Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."