Prime Minister Boris Johnson kept up his push Thursday for an early general election as a way to break Britain's Brexit impasse, as lawmakers moved to stop the U.K. leaving the European Union next month without a divorce deal.
Already dealt stinging defeats this week from his opponents in Parliament, Johnson suffered a personal blow as his own brother quit the government, saying it was not serving the national interest.
Johnson remained determined to secure an election after lawmakers on Wednesday rejected his attempt to trigger a snap poll. House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told Parliament that a vote would be held Sept. 9 on a new motion calling for an election in October.
Johnson's office said the prime minister would appeal directly to the public with a speech later in the day, arguing that politicians must "go back to the people and give them the opportunity to decide what they want."
He called the refusal by Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to endorse an election a "cowardly insult to democracy."
Johnson's determination to lead Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 faces strong opposition from lawmakers, including members of his own Conservative Party who oppose a no-deal Brexit.
His brother, Jo Johnson, quit the government, saying he could no longer endure the conflict "between family loyalty and the national interest."
Jo Johnson was an education minister in his older brother's government, despite his opposition to leaving the EU without a divorce deal. He said he would also step down from Parliament, the latest in a series of resignations by Conservative moderates opposed to the government's hard-line Brexit stance.
Boris Johnson became prime minister in July after promising Conservatives that he would complete Brexit and break the impasse that has paralyzed Britain's politics since voters decided in June 2016 to leave the bloc and which brought down his predecessor, Theresa May.
After only six weeks in office, however, his plans to lead the U.K. out of the EU are in crisis. He is caught between the EU, which refuses to renegotiate the deal it struck with May, and a majority of British lawmakers opposed to leaving without an agreement. Most economists say a no-deal Brexit would cause severe economic disruption and plunge the U.K. into recession.
Johnson's solution is to seek an election that could shake up Parliament and produce a less troublesome crop of lawmakers. It's a risky gambit: Opinion polls don't point to a clear majority for the Conservatives and the public mood is volatile.