There was also a personal cost to Mr. Johnson. His brother, Jo Johnson, a Member of Parliament and government minister, announced that he would resign, saying he was "torn between family loyalty and national interest." being "dead in a ditch" than asking Brussels for another delay in Britain's departure.
The widest image was chaos. The opposition rejected Johnson's request for an election, refusing to give him the necessary support from two-thirds of Parliament. They feared Johnson would try to schedule a vote before the October 31 deadline to leave Europe and use a new term, if he won the polls, to quit without agreement.
"Parliament is divided, clueless and doesn't know what it wants," said Anand Menon, professor of politics and foreign affairs at Europe's King's College London. "Well, this is the British people too. The political debate has changed beyond recognition over Brexit."
Despite all the tensions they have absorbed, the British democratic institutions have remained so far. The country's unwritten constitution has been a source of strength, giving members of Parliament flexibility to resist the government, but also weakness, as it has forced important decisions in the judicial and political spheres, with unpredictable results.
"The line between a political crisis and a constitutional crisis in a country with an unwritten constitution is simply not a bright line," said Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies at Oxford University.
“With an unwritten constitution,” he said, “you leave many of these questions to the political process. We are precisely at the ill-defined border between a political and constitutional crisis. "