Britain's government-opposed bill to stop a no-deal Brexit is set to become law next week

Boris Johnson
(Image credit: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)

Britain's upper house of Parliament, the House of Lords, agreed early Thursday to vote by 5 p.m. Friday on a bill aiming to prevent the U.K. from crashing out of the European Union without an exit agreement. The House of Commons approved the bill on Wednesday, one of several consecutive defeats suffered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week. The lower house also rejected Johnson's motion to hold snap elections; the opposition Labour Party wants the legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit enshrined in law before agreeing to new elections.

Assuming the House of Lords approves the bill on Friday, as expected, it will be returned to the House of Commons for a final vote, likely on Monday. Conservatives members of the upper House had threatened to filibuster the legislation, aiming to prevent its passage before Johnson suspends Parliament next week, but a compromise was reached in the early morning. "There was a realization by those on the other side that this was more than usually stupid, and they were looking stupid, and we needed to find a way forward," Richard Newby, an opposition member of the Lords, told BBC Radio.

If both houses approve the bill again, it will be presented for royal assent to become law. The legislation in question, presented by Labour MP Hilary Benn, requires Johnson to either get an EU-approved Brexit deal through Parliament by Oct. 19 or request an extension to Jan. 31, 2020, from the European Council — and unusually, it dictates the language Johnson must use in his extension request. If the EU proposes a different date, Parliament — not the government — has the right to accept or reject the proposal.

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Johnson is the first prime minister to lose his first vote in Parliament, and since then he has lost several more in quick succession.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.