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Where will Brexit go after Parliament Speaker rules
out third vote of Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom (Xinhua) -- With 11 days to go before Britain’s planned exit from the Europe Union (EU), Prime Minister Theresa May was dealt a blow on Monday in her quest for a deal with Brussels.

In what one government official described as a constitutional crisis, the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow ruled that May’s Brexit deal could not have a third vote in Parliament.

Citing parliamentary convention going back centuries, Bercow said only a substantially changed deal could be presented to the members of parliament (MPs).

Despite facing challenges from a number of MPs, Bercow’s ruling sticks.

May had hoped to be able to put her deal forward Tuesday or Wednesday of this week ahead of the European Council meeting of leaders of EU member states on Thursday.

A plan had been mapped out that if the deal finally got through the House of Commons after two rejections, she would ask the EU for an extension of the March 29 departure date until June 30 to enable legal processes to be completed.

If MPs had voted against, MPs would have faced the prospect of Britain seeking an extension of possibly several years.

Bercow said a third vote on a Brexit deal would require renegotiation at EU level, and the test of whether May’s motion to parliament had substantially changed would be if changes to the deal were made in agreement with Brussels.

The Daily Telegraph in London said the Speaker’s intervention was likely to infuriate Downing Street, but in the Commons, his ruling has been welcomed by both sides of the Brexit divide for very different reasons.

"Whilst Remainers believe his decision increases the likelihood of a second referendum, Brexiteers think it brings the UK closer to a no deal exit," said the Daily Telegraph.

In one of the first responses to Bercow’s ruling, Robert Buckland, the solicitor general, said Britain is in a constitutional crisis.

Buckland said Bercow’s ruling would have huge reverberations for the Brexit process, including the possibility of asking Queen Elizabeth to end the parliamentary session.

"Frankly we could have done without this but it is something we are going to have to negotiate and deal with.

"This actually places an onus on the European Council to come up with some potential solutions that allows the Government to put a new motion down which addresses the concerns expressed," he noted.

Stephen Laws, a former draftsman of parliamentary legislation, has said the Speaker of the Commons speculated that May’s government could work around the problem by putting down a new motion insisting on a vote on the deal "notwithstanding the practice of the House (of Commons)."

There had been growing doubt that May would put forward a vote on her deal this week in any case.

Her senior ministers had spent the weekend on a charm offensive to seek support from Conservative MPs and the crucial support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to change their minds.

Senior ministers, including Chancellor Philip Hammond, said there would only be a third vote on the deal unless the government was reasonably certain of success.

On its first outing in the commons, the deal was rejected by 230 votes, the biggest defeat in British political history. In the second vote last week it was beaten by a smaller margin of 149 votes.

May is due to take part in the European Council meeting on Thursday when she plans to ask for Brexit to be delayed.

May is now expected to write to European Council President Donald Tusk seeking an extension of Article 50, the process that set Britain’s original departure date of March 29.
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EARLIER REPORT:

Third vote on May’s Brexit deal still uncertain as departure date looms

by Larry Neild LONDON United Kingdom -- The idea of British people taking part in the European Elections in May hardly bears thinking about, Prime Minister Theresa May said Sunday in her latest bid to win support for her Brexit deal.

MPs are set to return to Westminster Monday to learn whether they will have the chance on Tuesday or Wednesday to vote for the third time on May’s deal.

May mapped out the various routes ahead in an article in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper spelling out the consequences of turning down a deal that was rejected by a 230 margin in its first vote and by 149 in its second.

After a number of MPs switch sides to back her deal in last week’s second vote, May said she knows she will have to do more to convince more Conservative MPs as well as the 10 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs if she is to succeed in finally securing a majority for the Brexit deal.

May said if the British Parliament can agree the deal before the European Council on March 21, Britain will seek to delay its planned March 29 departure from the EU to enable legislation to be passed.

She said: "The alternative if Parliament cannot agree the deal by that time is much worse.

"EU leaders would require a clear purpose for any extension.

"If the proposal were to go back to square one and negotiate a new deal, that would mean a much longer extension, almost certainly requiring Britain United Kingdom to participate in the European Parliament elections in May.

"The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about.

"There could be no more potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure," said May.

In a message to MPs May said:

"For those who backed remain, I am asking them to remove any chance of the UK staying in the EU.

"For those who backed leave, I am asking them to vote for a form of Brexit that may not be everything they hoped for."

The prime minister warned: "If we fail, the way ahead is one of uncertainty and ongoing, perhaps permanent, division."

Although Tuesday has been earmarked as the day when the third vote on the deal will take place, it has yet to be confirmed.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said on a Sunday morning political program on the BBC that it has not yet definitely been decided.

"We will only bring the deal back if we are confident that enough of our colleagues and the DUP are prepared to support it so we can get it through Parliament," he said.

Hammond added: "Clearly if we don’t get this deal through, we are almost certainly going to have to fight a European parliamentary election and we are almost certainly going to have to have a longer extension."

Keir Starmer, Shadow Brexit Secretary for the main opposition Labour Party, said Sunday the party leadership plans to back an amendment when May’s deal comes before parliament for its third vote.

The amendment would call for a second referendum on EU membership, even though a referendum call was overwhelmingly rejected last week by the House of Commons.

Britain is currently scheduled by its own parliamentary legislation to leave the EU on March 29 unless it is replaced by an alternative legal measure.
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FURTHER READING:

UK speaker blocks third vote on Brexit deal: Theresa May’s plans
for a third vote on her Brexit deal may have been scuttled.

             

 

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