Brexit: UK ‘in crisis’ as Theresa May prepares to ask for delay

by Garry Watts March 20, 2019, 0:49
Brexit: UK ‘in crisis’ as Theresa May prepares to ask for delay

The deal has already been defeated twice by MPs, and Mr Bercow has ruled that Mrs May can not bring it back for a third vote without "substantial" changes.

If the deal is substantially different from the plan that the Commons has rejected already, he will allow members of Parliament to vote on it, the speaker said.

"This is my conclusion: if the government wishes to bring forward a new proposition that is neither the same, nor substantially the same as that disposed of by the house on the 12th of March, this would be entirely in order", Bercow said.

"The EU's interests will be put before anything else", said the official, who isn't authorized to speak publicly in line with the presidency's customary practices.

Maddy Thimont Jack, a researcher at the Institute for Government in London, said that while Bercow's decision clearly frustrates Theresa May's initial plans to bring a third " meaningful vote" back to parliament this week, it does not prevent her doing so. Which part of the word LEAVE do the media and the 600 odd (in every sense of the word) MP's do not understand?

Earlier, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay signalled that ministers would press on with Mrs May's Brexit deal despite the Commons Speaker's bombshell intervention.

In the course of a 90-minute discussion with senior ministers, Mrs May made clear she wanted MPs to have another vote "as soon as possible".

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator added: "Extending the uncertainty without a clear plan would add to the economic cost for our businesses but could also incur a political cost for the EU".

By law, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on March 29, deal or no deal, unless it secures a delay from the bloc.

"The European Parliament and Council have approved almost all the contingency measures and are working on the two last measures that still need to be adopted, namely on short-term visas and the EU budget for 2019".

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow rules out a third vote on the same Brexit deal
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow rules out a third vote on the same Brexit deal

The talks appeared to be positive, and several Conservative hardliners had said they would be willing to follow the lead of the DUP.

With no divorce agreement yet ratified, the United Kingdom parliament voted last week for May to seek a delay of the exit date.

He declined to say how long a delay she would request, or for what goal, simply insisting, "you're going to have to wait for that letter to be published".

European Union leaders could hold off making a final decision at that summit on any Brexit delay depending on what exactly May asks them for, senior diplomats in the bloc said.

Margaritis Schinas, a spokesman for the European Commission, said it was not for Brussels to comment on British parliamentary procedures but urged May and her government "to decide on the next steps and then to inform us accordingly and swiftly".

That leaves May with the option of asking for a longer extension, with rumours of a two year delay to Brexit.

It could also mean Britain crashing out of the bloc next week without a deal, even though Parliament has voted to rule out that option.

His 11th hour decision will infuriate No 10 who admitted that he had not warned them he was giving a statement - let alone what it was about - before dropping his Brexit bombshell this afternoon.

Reports on Monday suggested a delay of up to nine months could be on offer, a move that would require Britons to vote in the European Parliament elections in May.

"We don't have that much time left".

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