Number 10 admits UK 'in crisis' amid major Brexit bust-up with Speaker John Bercow

Posted On: 
19th March 2019

Downing Street today admitted Britain had been plunged into crisis after Speaker John Bercow blocked Theresa May from holding a third vote on her Brexit deal.

The Speaker sparked fury on Monday when stopped ministers from repeating the vote on the Brexit deal
Credit: 
PA

The Speaker enraged ministers on Monday when he announced he would not allow a third Commons vote on a motion that was “substantially the same” as the one MPs rejected last week.

Asked today whether the move amounted to a constitutional crisis, Mrs May's official spokesman said: "If you were to look back to the speech which the Prime Minister gave just before ‘meaningful vote two’, she said that if MPs did not support ‘meaningful vote two' we would be in a crisis."

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He added: "I think events yesterday tell you that that situation has come to pass."

Number 10 meanwhile confirmed that Mrs May will send a letter to European Council president Donald Tusk on either Tuesday or Wednesday requesting a formal delay to Brexit.

It came after the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of her Cabinet, with ministers mulling how best to navigate the block imposed by the Commons Speaker.

That included discussion of what changes would be required before the deal can go to a third vote, as well as whether or not MPs could hold a vote on ignoring the Speaker.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay earlier played down the prospect of asking the Queen to end the parliamentary session - known as proroguing Parliament - to try to stave off the threat.

"For all the divisions there are in the House of Commons at the moment - and all the divisions that there are in the country on Brexit - I think the one thing everyone would agree on is involving Her Majesty on any of the issues around Brexit is not the way forward," he said.

But the Cabinet minister admitted Mr Bercow - who triggered anger across Government with his surprise move on Monday - had "raised the bar" with his ruling.

"The Speaker himself has pointed to possible solutions," he said.

"He himself has said in earlier rulings than we shouldn't be bound by precedent, and obviously this is based on a precedent going back to 1604.

"The Speaker himself has said where the will of the House is for a certain course of action, then it's important that will of the House is respected.

"So, it's important we look at his previous rulings in the context of yesterday's rulings as part of taking our next step."

BERCOW BOMBSHELL

Addressing the Commons on Monday, Mr Bercow made clear that the parliamentary rulebook meant the Government could not "resubmit" the same motion that was defeated by 149 votes last week.

"It has been strongly rumoured that third and even fourth meaningful vote motions will be attempted, hence this statement which is designed to signal what would be orderly and what would not," he said.

"This is my conclusion: If the Government wishes to bring forward a new proposition that is neither the same nor substantially the same that disposed of by the House on 12 March, this would be entirely in order.

"What the Government cannot legitimately do is to resubmit to the House the same proposition or substantially the same proposition as that of last week which was rejected by 149 votes."

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