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Last minute bid to derail Brexit by rebel MPs; thousands protest outside Parliament

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Adam Shaw

Oct. 19 2019

A crucial vote on U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal was facing a last-ditch bid by anti-Brexit MPs to derail it hours before lawmakers were due to cast their votes -- as thousands protested outside Parliament.

The rare Saturday session of Parliament was surrounded with both drama and a cloud of unknowns ahead of the vote expected late in the day, and comes just days after Johnson had secured a new withdrawal agreement with European leaders during the week, ahead of Britain’s scheduled departure from the bloc at the end of the month.

Lawmakers on both sides of the issue had warned of the danger of leaving without a deal, and Johnson had hailed the agreement as one that would satisfy hardline Brexiteers while making sure that the U.K. did not crash out of the bloc.

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As lawmakers debated the measure, thousands of mostly anti-Brexit protesters marched through the streets of London. Many of them were calling for a second referendum -- something that those opposed to Brexit have been calling for since shortly after the first referendum in 2016, where 52 percent of voters chose to leave.

While polls show Johnson’s Conservative Party leading comfortably in the polls, there is a strong alliance of anti-Brexit parties in Parliament, and polls suggest that the public is still mostly split down the middle on Britain’s departure from the E.U.

The vote, should it be held, is expected to be decided by just a handful of undecided MPs. However, it was facing yet another hurdle being put down by anti-Brexit MPs in the shape of an amendment that would force Johnson to still request a delay in Britain’s departure, even if the deal passed.

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