UK Speaker Rules Out 3rd Vote On Brexit deal

  • Mar 19, 2019 GMT
  • Team Kalkine
UK Speaker Rules Out 3rd Vote On Brexit deal

British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a fresh Brexit setback on Monday after the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, warned he would not allow a vote unless the agreement was substantively different to the ones previously rejected by the lawmakers.

May had been considering a third "meaningful” vote on her Brexit deal, but John Bercow, in a surprise move, ruled that the government can't "legitimately" table the same deal which was previously rejected, and the new proposal must be "fundamentally different". He further warned any difference in terms of wording would not be enough to bypass the ruling. The British PM had been scrambling to secure the support of rebel Tories and allies to back her deal just days before Britain's scheduled exit from the EU next week, but this ruling could put a break on this last-ditch effort and force her to reopen negotiations with Brussels.

The Speaker, who oversees selection of the motions and amendments that the Commons votes on, cited parliamentary precedent dating to 1604 that does not allow a bill to be tabled again if it had already been rejected in the same parliamentary session. According to the solicitor-general Robert Buckland, the ruling has created a "major constitutional crisis". There is growing anger amongst the Tories who accuse Bercow of sabotaging Mrs May's Brexit plan.

This comes after the parliament had voted down her proposal for the second time on 12th March and had subsequently voted to extend the deal. Mrs May had hoped to give the deal one more chance and was expected to present it before the EU summit scheduled to be held on March 21-22. While May had been expected to lose the vote this week, there were reports that Mrs May was trying hard to coax Hard-Brexiters into voting for her deal, warning them any extension may result in Brexit not happening at all. She was also courting allies, like the Democratic Unionist Party, to vote for her deal.

 If her agreement had passed through the parliament in a third vote before that meeting, she was expected to seek a short extension until June 30. However, if May arrives in Brussels without parliament's backing, the possibility of the EU agreeing to a short extension will prove tricky and will likely force her to accept a longer delay. This will be an embarrassment to the British government as it will have to contest the European Parliament elections, which means the UK will spend more than £100m on participating in the elections. A senior Tory remarked that the Speaker was deliberately trying to obstruct the vote in order to force a softer form of Brexit.

Now, Mrs May, in addition to asking for an extension, will seek to tweak her deal at the EU meeting, probably by making changes in the non-binding political declaration – to bypass the Speaker.

Mr Bercow, who voted Remain in the 2016 EU referendum, had opposed the government on multiple occasions during the Brexit process, enraging hardline Eurosceptics. He is accused of supporting procedures and amendments that goes against hard-Brexit and supports the pro-EU factions. Not only many opponents of the British Prime Minister's Brexit deal welcomed the Speaker's ruling, but he also found support in Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the eurosceptic European Research Group.

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