Bercow blocks ‘repetitive and disorderly’ Brexit vote

#Brexit special section Westminster

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has blocked MPs voting on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, ruling “it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.”

The government had sought a “yes” or “no” vote on Boris Johnson’s new deal but Bercow said doing so would break long standing parliamentary conventions given MPs had already debated the motion – just two days ago.

The PM’s official spokesman said Johnson was “disappointed” by Bercow’s ruling, adding: “The Speaker has yet again denied us a chance to deliver on the will of the British people.”

‘Same substance and circumstance’

Hundreds of thousands of People’s Vote campaigners marched through London on Saturday to call for a second referendum to decide on Brexit. They rallied outside the Houses of Parliament, while inside the Commons, MPs defeated the government by voting for the Letwin Amendment.

That vote withheld MPs’ approval of Johnson’s deal until the legislation for the latest Withdrawal Agreement Bill has been passed by parliament, thereby avoiding a no-deal Brexit.

The Speaker told the Commons on Monday: “Today’s motion is in substance the same as Saturday’s motion, and the house has decided the matter. Today’s circumstances are in substance the same as Saturday’s circumstances.”

He added: “The motion will not be debated today, as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.”

Ten days to go

There are just ten days until the October 31 deadline for the UK to leave the EU – unless an extension is granted by Brussels.

Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg said the government will introduce the withdrawal agreement bill tomorrow (Tuesday). The bill sets out the legal basis for the UK leaving the EU under the treaty agreed last week and must be passed in accordance with the Letwin Amendment.

The formality of tomorrow’s first reading will be followed by the first meaningful vote on the second reading which will indicate the Prime Minister’s chances of success in getting a deal before the Halloween deadline.

However, MPs will be able to table amendments to the bill – including ones seeking a customs union as part of a Brexit deal, and others that make a second referendum a condition of the deal.

Towards a general election

Should any of these amendments win a majority of MPs’ support they will effectively wreck the government’s withdrawal agreement bill entirely and hasten the likelihood of the much anticipated general election.

There has been much speculation that Johnson is trying to set up a “people vs parliament” narrative on which to fight the election, framing himself as the man who tried to deliver Brexit only to be thwarted by ‘Remainers’ in the Commons.

Bercow has already said he will be stepping down from his position as Speaker of the House on October 31.

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