Brexit: New vote not ruled out despite Bercow decision

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The government says it will try to get Theresa May’s Brexit deal through the Commons, despite Speaker John Bercow throwing the process into doubt.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay suggested a vote could take place next week – after Mrs May has sought a delay to Brexit from the EU.

Mr Bercow has ruled that the PM can not bring her deal back for a third vote without “substantial” changes.

The UK is due to leave the EU in 10 days with or without a deal.

The prime minister had hoped to have another try at getting MPs to back the withdrawal deal she has agreed with the EU this week – but Speaker Bercow effectively torpedoed that with his surprise intervention on Monday.

Stephen Barclay told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the Commons Speaker had made a “serious ruling” and ministers were giving it “serious consideration”.

He said it was important to “respect the referee” and abide by his decisions – but, he added, Mr Bercow himself had said, in the past, that if Parliament was guided only by precedent then “nothing ever would change”.

Mr Bercow cited a ruling from 1604 to justify his decision to block a third vote, after the PM’s deal was rejected for a second time last week, by 149 votes.

Mr Barclay suggested that MPs would “find a way” to get another vote, if the government manages to persuade enough of them, including the 10 Democratic Unionists, to change their mind and back the deal.

He suggested it would also depend on Theresa May getting “clarity” from the EU on the “terms of an extension” to Brexit.

He accepted that there would now have to be a “short extension” to the Article 50 withdrawal process if the deal gets through Parliament, to get the necessary legislation through.

Mrs May is writing to European Council President Donald Tusk to ask for an extension.

The PM has warned Brexiteer Tories that a long extension may be needed if they do not back her deal but Downing Street said it would not reveal what the PM has asked for at this stage.

There would, however, need to be a vote in both Houses of Parliament to change the 29 March departure date, which is written into law, the PM’s spokesman said.

Mr Bercow refused to discuss his decision when quizzed by the BBC, as he made his way to Parliament earlier.

 

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