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Brexit: MPs’ vote on deal ruled out by Speaker John Bercow

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Media captionBercow: The motion will not be debated today

The Commons Speaker has refused a government request to hold a “yes” or “no” vote on its Brexit deal.

John Bercow said a motion on the deal had already been brought before MPs on Saturday, and it would be “repetitive and disorderly” to debate it again.

Saturday’s sitting saw an amended motion nodded through by MPs, which withholds approval of Boris Johnson’s deal until it has been passed into law.

The PM agreed a deal with the EU last week, but it must be approved by MPs.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Bercow said he came to the decision on the basis of a parliamentary convention dating back to 1604.

He cited Parliament’s rulebook, Erskine May, which says a motion that is the same “in substance” as a previous one cannot be brought back to the Commons during the course of a single parliamentary session.

The Speaker also said the circumstances around the motion had not changed, so his ruling was “necessary… to ensure the sensible use of the House’s time and proper respect for the decisions that it takes”.

Brexiteer anger

But Tory MP and Brexiteer Sir Bernard Jenkin appeared to accused Mr Bercow of bias, saying it was “remarkable” how often the Speaker “pleased one lot and not the other”.

“It is most unusual for a Speaker so often to prevent the government having a debate on the matters which the government wish put before the House,” he added.

Fellow Tory David T C Davies said: “The only consistency one can find in your rulings is that they always seem to favour one side of the argument and never the government.”

But Mr Bercow disagreed, adding: “The consistent thread is I try to do what I think is right by the House of Commons.”

The UK is due to leave the EU in 10 days, and while Mr Johnson and fellow EU leaders have agreed a new deal to allow that to happen, it cannot come into force until it is approved by both the UK and European parliaments.

Due to the amendment voted through on Saturday – tabled by former Tory Sir Oliver Letwin – that cannot happen until legislation, called the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB), is passed by the Westminster Parliament.

That legislation will be introduced later on Monday, but will then have to go through full parliamentary scrutiny in both the Commons and the Lords.

The Letwin amendment also meant that Mr Johnson was required to ask for an extension to the Brexit deadline, according to the terms of the Benn Act.

The PM sent the required letter to the EU but did not sign it, and sent a second letter saying he thought a delay was a mistake.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal

Image copyright AFP

IN BRIEF: How Parliament forced a delay

EXPLAINED: How the delay request works

ANALYSIS: What is in Boris Johnson’s new deal?

IN GRAPHICS: What happens now?

IN FULL: Boris Johnson’s Brexit delay letters

Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer has said his party will push for changes when the WAB is brought to Parliament, demanding a UK-wide customs union with the EU and single market alignment, and backing moves to put the deal to a referendum.

But the PM’s spokesman has reiterated the government’s opposition to both proposals.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group advised MEPs on Monday not to vote on whether to approve the deal until it gets the full sign-off from the UK.

BBC Brussels reporter Adam Fleming said they could hold a special session next week to approve it, but it was more likely to happen at their next planned session on 13 November – meaning an extension would be needed.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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