Mr Johnson has ruled out asking the EU to delay Britain’s departure from the bloc. (Parliament TV via Reuters)
Boris Johnson has lost his working majority in the House of Commons after a Conservative MP sensationally defected to a rival party as the Prime Minister addressed the chamber.
Dr Phillip Lee, the MP for Bracknell, took his seat on the opposition benches as Mr Johnson made only his second statement to the Commons as Prime Minister after Parliament returned from its summer recess.
BBC Politics: The moment defecting Tory MP Phillip Lee takes his seat with the Liberal Democrats, leaving Boris Johnson’s government with no working majority
It is another blow to Mr Johnson as he attempts to stop Parliament from passing an emergency debate order to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
Shortly after crossing the floor Dr Lee, who supports a second EU referendum, released a strongly-worded statement announcing he had joined the centre-left Liberal Democrats.
Mr Lee said that Brexit divisions had “sadly transformed this once great party into something more akin to a narrow faction in which one’s Conservatism is measured by how recklessly one wants to leave the European Union”.
He also said the Conservative Government was “putting lives and livelihoods at risk unnecessary and it is wantonly endangering the integrity of the UK”.
“More widely, it is undermining our country’s economy, democracy and role in the world,” Mr Lee wrote.
“It is using political manipulation, bullying and lies. And it is doing these things in a deliberate and considered way.”
Mr Johnson has vowed the UK will leave the European Union on October 31 regardless of it having a divorce deal or not.
Later on Tuesday evening (local time) MPs are set to vote on whether to take control of Parliament on Wednesday to extend the Brexit deadline to the end of January 2020 in order to prevent Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.
Dr Phillip Lee MP tweet: After a great deal of thought, I have reached the conclusion that it is no longer possible to serve my constituents’ and country’s best interests as a Conservative Member of Parliament.
More to come