Theresa Might’s plan to steamroller her Brexit deal by way of the Home of Commons faces a doubtlessly insurmountable hurdle after the Speaker John Bercow mentioned he wouldn’t permit a vote until the settlement was substantively modified.
The UK prime minister had hoped to safe MPs’ backing for the deal simply days earlier than Britain’s scheduled exit from the EU subsequent week. However Mr Bercow’s ruling on Monday raised the prospect of reopening negotiations with Brussels but once more earlier than parliament was allowed to vote on the deal for a 3rd time.
Mr Bercow’s choice infuriated Downing Avenue; he cited parliamentary precedent courting to 1604 that stops the reintroduction of a measure that was “the identical in substance” to at least one that had already been voted down in the identical parliamentary session.
The intervention created a “main constitutional disaster”, in line with solicitor-general Robert Buckland. Livid Tories claimed Mr Bercow — who voted Stay within the 2016 EU referendum — was intentionally making an attempt to sabotage Mrs Might’s Brexit plan.
One mentioned that Mr Bercow’s ruling had made it “a lot more durable” for Mrs Might to carry one other vote on her deal earlier than Thursday’s EU summit assembly in Brussels.
It’s clear what the Speaker is doing. He’s making an attempt to pressure a protracted extension which might result in a softer type of Brexit
If Mrs Might arrives in Brussels with out parliamentary backing, the EU is prone to pressure her to just accept a protracted delay to Britain’s departure, meant to compel an entire rethink of Brexit. “It’s clear what the Speaker is doing,” mentioned one senior Tory. “He’s making an attempt to pressure a protracted extension which might result in a softer type of Brexit.”
Downing Avenue was final evening scrambling to discover a means across the Speaker’s ruling; Mr Buckland even urged a dramatic possibility of “crashing” the present session and asking the Queen to return to Westminster to open a brand new parliamentary session.
The event bewildered European officers. Talking at a St Patrick’s day occasion in Brussels, Simon Coveney, the Irish deputy premier, expressed hope the UK and EU may “forge the closest doable relationship” — however pointedly added it might solely be “as soon as we overcome an issue or two over the subsequent few weeks”.
Mrs Might had deliberate to place the Brexit deal, which has already been rejected twice by MPs, to a 3rd vote as early as Tuesday forward of the EU summit.
Even earlier than Mr Bercow intervened, she was going through an uphill battle, with principally unwavering Eurosceptic opposition to her deal, which has additionally been blocked by Northern Eire’s Democratic Unionist occasion.
Mr Bercow urged that beauty modifications to the deal wouldn’t be sufficient to permit one other vote this week. He warned that conventions stop something in need of a significant revision from being launched.
The ruling means Mrs Might’s journey to Brussels on Thursday is prone to have a double mission: The primary is to hunt an extension to the Article 50 exit course of, delaying exit past March 29 to permit her extra time to move her deal.
That extension is prone to final till June 30 if she is ready to safe approval for her deal, but it surely could possibly be for much longer if she is unable to win MPs’ backing; Britain would then participate in Might’s European Parliament elections.
Now, the prime minister can also have to hunt assist from EU leaders to tweak her deal — presumably by amending a non-binding political declaration on future relations between the EU and UK — to bypass the Speaker’s ruling.
Mr Bercow, a Conservative MP who gave up his occasion affiliation when he grew to become Speaker, has defied the federal government on a number of events throughout the Brexit course of. He has enraged each ministers and hardline Eurosceptics by backing procedures and amendments that critics say help the pro-EU factions in parliament.
Mr Bercow justified his ruling on the idea that the Commons needed to be even handed in its use of time. He identified that MPs had been coping with Mrs Might’s withdrawal settlement for 4 months, and added that the prime minister had delayed the primary vote on the deal, scheduled for December, after greater than 170 speeches on it.
Sterling dropped sharply after Mr Bercow’s announcement, falling as a lot as zero.7 per cent to $1.3185 earlier than paring a number of the losses later within the buying and selling day. The pound additionally misplaced nearly 1 per cent of its worth in opposition to the euro, which traded at £zero.8591 after the announcement.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Eurosceptic Conservative MP, satirically welcomed Mr Bercow’s choice to comply with precedent — a nod to the speaker’s previous willingness to depart from conference in circumstances that discomfited the federal government.
Further reporting by Alex Barker in Brussels