Boris Johnson Loses Snap Election Vote, But Apparently It Doesn’t Matter

George Cracknell Wright/London News Pictures via ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

A few years ago Britain passed a bill that set a five-year term for the prime minister. An election could be called sooner only with the agreement of two-thirds of parliament. Today, Boris Johnson asked for that agreement, but it didn’t go well:

The prime minister failed on Monday to get the votes of two-thirds of MPs he needed to secure an election under existing laws, after opposition parties largely abstained. However, he said he would table a short bill on Tuesday that would change the law in order to hold a poll on 12 December. He would only need a simple majority for this plan.

Can one of my British readers please explain this? In the US, the requirement of a supermajority vote is generally meaningful thanks to Senate rules or constitutional mandates. But in Britain, anything parliament can do, it can also undo. So what was the point of the original bill mandating a two-thirds vote?

I gather that one difference is that Johnson’s “short bill” is open to amendments, which makes it slightly less desirable than an election called under normal rules. Is that it? Or is there some subtlety here that I’m not grasping?

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate