For the second time, opposition MPs denied Boris Johnson the General Election he wants in the Commons’ last act before parliament closed until 14 October.
Though MPs voted in favour of an early election by 293 to 46, the government did not get the two-thirds majority of the whole house required.
Read more: Speaker John Bercow to step down
Opposition leaders abstained, fearing the government could push the vote back beyond 31 October, when the UK is due to leave the EU.
The midnight vote came at the end of a dramatic last day of term in Westminster, with controversial speaker John Bercow pledging to step down on Halloween – ensuring he will remain in place through vital Brexit votes when parliament returns.
Johnson told the Commons after the vote that he had urged MPs to “trust the people” but said the opposition “think they know better.” He said Labour want to “delay Brexit without any further reference to those who voted for it” and had “twice denied the British people their say”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he “was not prepared to risk the disaster of inflicting no deal” on the country and that he did not trust the government to obey a law taking no-deal off the table.
Earlier in the day, Johnson had visited Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin, saying that no-deal would be a “failure of statecraft for which we will all be responsible,” though no immediate border breakthrough was forthcoming.
But the real drama came in Westminster, with a bill demanding the PM return to Brussels to ask for a delay if he cannot get a Brexit deal through Parliament by 19 October gaining Royal Assent and then the speaker’s surprise announcement.
Over the weekend, business secretary Andrea Leadsom revealed plans to put up a Tory candidate against the independent MP in protest at him allowing so-called rebel alliance MPs take control of the Commons agenda last week.
In recent years the speaker has been seen as helping pro-Remain MPs to fight the government, frequently siding with rebel backbenchers and opposition parties despite the role being impartial.
The Buckingham MP, who told MPs he had “never lost a night of sleep from work”, came under fire after allegations of bullying surfaced last year. A report, published several months later, led to calls for his resignation amid claims he was presiding over a culture of “deference and silence.”
In a sideswipe at Johnson and his chief adviser Dominic Cummings, Bercow said last night: “We degrade this parliament at our peril.”
Shortly after his emotional Commons announcement, Bercow allowed former attorney general and Downing Street bete noire Dominic Grieve to present a motion calling for government officials to hand over private communications, including text messages, emails and Whatsapp conversations, relating to the decision to prorogue parliament.
Grieve said he believed there was “a concerted get-together within government to try to ensure this House could be prevented from taking action to stop a no-deal Brexit, and that the origins of that long pre-date the first time the government mentioned prorogation”.
MPs voted 311 to 302 in favour of his motion, which applies to nine advisers, including Cummings.
However the government is not expected to compel staff to turn over their communications.