British Parliament voted Tuesday to support Boris Johnson's Brexit deal in principle but then, more importantly, rejected the prime minister's timetable for passing the necessary withdrawal agreement bill over the next three days.
The yes-no vote creates further chaos and confusion over what happens next for Johnson and his Brexit deal.
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"So now we face further uncertainty," Johnson said after the vote, warning Britons that the government would immediately step up preparations to leave the European Union with no deal at the end of October. But that could be a bluff.
Johnson said he would consult with the European Union about a delay. The prime minister further said that he would "pause" debate on the withdrawal agreement.
The British prime minister on Saturday was forced to ask the E.U., in a formal letter, required by law, to seek an extension until the end of January 2020.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Johnson argued that speed is of the essence. Let's get it done.
Slow down, sceptics warned. The British economy is at stake.
The sceptics won the day.
They voted 322 to 308 to reject Johnson's request for an accelerated timetable.
Johnson had urged the House of Commons to support the withdrawal deal he negotiated with the European Union and to push through the related domestic legislation in three days, so Britain can fulfil his "do or die" promise to exit the European Union by Oct. 31.
Lawmakers complained they were being asked to approve legislation they had not had time to scrutinize, nor, in many cases, even read.
The government published its 110-page bill on Monday evening - the first chance anyone had a chance to lay eyes on it.
Johnson wants it sorted in 72 hours.
Johnson's government has withheld an economic analysis of his Brexit deal - which seeks to leave the EU single market, diverge from EU customs regimes and tariff schedules and allow Britain to make its own independent trade deals around the world. The Johnson exit is a harder Brexit than that envisioned by his predecessor, Theresa May.
When asked about the government's refusal to publish an economic assessment, Johnson said the agreement would be a "powerful positive shot in the arm for the U.K. economy."
Johnson's deal also differs most markedly from May's over the vexing issue of Northern Ireland. His deal leaves the province much more closely aligned to the EU by effectively putting a border down the Irish Sea.
"It's an absurdly constrained timetable," said Jon Tonge, professor of politics at the University of Liverpool. "There hasn't been a single economic assessment done yet, and the deal is significantly different from May's."
Some lawmakers pointed out the Parliament spent months debating a bill on how circus animals are treated. Other commentators compared passing Johnson's Brexit in three days to reading Tolstoy's phone-book-thick "War and Peace" on the bus ride home.
The opposition Labour Party's Emily Thornberry told the BBC, "The idea that we are going to be bounced as a country out of the European Union in a period of a few days without politicians being given a chance to look carefully at the basis on which we are making this decision is wrong."
"This is an artificial timetable of the 31st of October and we don't see why we should play Boris Johnson's game," she said.
Hannah White, deputy director of the Institute for Government, an independent think tank, wrote in a post that the timetable proposed was "deeply inadequate."
"For a constitutional bill which makes probably the most significant changes to the U.K.'s position in the world that the Commons has been asked to consider for decades, it is extraordinary," she wrote. "The government must know this, but it is asking MPs to agree the timetable or be seen to be thwarting Brexit."
"Anyone who claims meaningful legislative scrutiny is possible on this timetable is - at best - misguided," she added.
Parliamentarians aren't known for approving legislation at the click of a finger.
European leaders are taking a wait-and-see approach, but they have signaled that they would likely grant an extension beyond the end of the month.