Boris Johnson Brexit deal derailed again as Bercow blocks second attempt at ‘meaningful vote’
Speaker of the House of Commons says there is no justification for the government to force another vote just two days afer MPs voted to withhold their approval
Mr Bercow said that there was no justification for the government to ask MPs to debate the plan for a second time just two days after they voted on Saturday to withhold their approval, describing the demand as "utterly unreasonable".
The decision means Mr Johnson must now press ahead with legislation to ratify the deal without certainty that it has the backing of the Commons.
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs just minutes after Mr Johnson’s humiliating defeat on Saturday that the government would make a second attempt to secure Commons approval for the deal on Monday.
But Mr Bercow immediately signalled that the bid might be rejected, describing it as “most curious and irregular” to try to invalidate MPs’ decision so quickly.
Today, he said that he had to decide whether the prime minister was trying to make MPs vote twice on an identical motion -something which is banned by Commons rules – and whether anything had happened in the interim which changed the circumstances of the issue.
He told MPs: “Today’s circumstances are in substance the same as Saturday’s circumstances.
“My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.”
The ruling sparked outrage among Tory eurosceptics, with Sir Bernard Jenkin accusing the speaker of showing favour towards opponents of Brexit.
Sir Bernard told the speaker: “It is becoming remarkable how often you please one lot and not the other lot… It is most unusual for the speaker so often to prevent the government having debated the matters which the government wishes to have debated in the House.”
But Bercow retorted that he had often granted Sir Bernard and fellow Brexiteers the opportunity to put the government on the spot.
“When he was getting the decisions in his favour, he wasn’t grumbling,” said Mr Bercow. “He is grumbling now because he doesn’t like the decision. But the decision I have made is an honourable and fair one.”
The Government is now expected to table its Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) in the Commons today, kicking off a ratification process which will see the second reading debate to take place on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s vote will give MPs the chance to kill off the deal by voting it down.
But victory for Mr Johnson will not amount to parliamentary endorsement of the last-minute agreement reached with EU leaders last Thursday, merely MPs’ consent for it to be debated and subject to close scrutiny over the coming days.
The government is then expected to move a timetabling motion designed to force the bill through both Houses of Parliament in time for Mr Johnson’s 31 October deadline for Brexit. If MPs vote down this motion, debate could drag on for weeks beyond Halloween, leaving the UK dependent on an extension from Brussels to avoid crashing out of the EU without a deal at the end of the month.
The EU is currently considering the request for an extension which Mr Johnson sent on Saturday, but it is not yet known when it will respond.
Responding to Mr Bercow's decision, the PM's official spokesman said: "We are disappointed that the speaker has yet again denied us the chance to deliver on the will of the British people. We will now go ahead with the introduction of the WAB today, with second reading tomorrow.
"The public want Brexit done. The government is determined to pass the PM's new deal and get us out of the EU by 31 October."