Speed Reads

brexit chaos

A Conservative MP defected the party right in front of Boris Johnson

The United Kingdom no longer has a working majority in the House of Commons. Conservative MP Phillip Lee defected to the Liberal Democrats on Tuesday right in front of Prime Minister Boris Johnson who was in the middle of addressing MPs.

Lee, who says he joined the Conservative Party 27 years ago and has served as the MP for the Bracknell constituency since 2010, has long been opposed to the U.K.'s departure from the European Union. In a statement, he said Johnson was pursuing a "damaging Brexit" that could "put lives at risk." He also clarified, "I haven't left my party, my party has left me."

Lee crossed the Commons floor and sat with the Liberal Democrats while Johnson was speaking, eliciting some shouts and murmurs among the assembled.

The defection comes ahead of a showdown between Johnson's government and "rebel" Tory MPs who are attempting — along with the opposition — to pass legislation that would block a no-deal Brexit ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline. While Lee's move was no doubt dramatic, some analysts have pointed out that Johnson may have just been holding onto a majority in name-only, anyway.