The Conservative Party lost its working majority of one on Tuesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson was giving an address in Parliament, with lawmaker Phillip Lee crossing the floor of the House of Commons to defect to the Liberal Democrats in dramatic fashion.
Johnson was making an appeal to lawmakers ahead of a crucial vote this evening that could see Conservative rebels effectively block the U.K. from leaving the European Union with no trade deal.
As Johnson spoke, Conservative Member of Parliament Philip Lee crossed the floor to join the pro-EU Liberal Democrat party. In a statement, Lee accused Johnson of “pursuing a damaging Brexit in unprincipled ways.”
Parliament will vote this week on whether to block the government from carrying out a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31, assuming Johnson isn’t able to strike a last-minute agreement with the European Union. Johnson has threatened to expel Conservative lawmakers who vote against the government, and has signaled that he will call a general election if the legislation to block no-deal succeeds.
Johnson has gambled his leadership on a “do or die” pledge to leave the EU with or without a deal by the legal deadline of Oct. 31.