Speaker wrecks May's Brexit plan by banning another vote on deal

Diplo-cat Natalie Loiseau

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Does it make it more or less likely that an extension to Article 50 will be longer than the short three-months?

Explore: What is Brexit all about?

He added: "My feeling is ... a longer extension needs to be linked to something new".

Mr Barclay suggested that MPs would "find a way" to get another vote, if the government manages to persuade enough of them, including the 10 Democratic Unionists, to change their mind and back the deal.

He accepted that there would now have to be a "short extension" to the Article 50 withdrawal process as the Government would not be able to get through all the legislation it needed in time for March 29 when the United Kingdom is due to leave.

Speaker John Bercow said another debate and vote on the negotiated Brexit deal was only possible if there is something significantly different to discuss - he said this test was met when there was a second vote on the deal last week because there had been further clarifications and legal guarantees, however since then nothing further has been agreed between the Prime Minister and the EU.

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He warned that last week's House of Commons vote rejecting a "no-deal" Brexit will not prevent it from happening and said the only way to end this "period of uncertainty" is for the United Kingdom to make concrete decisions. It would be absurd to hold the vote before that has even been attempted'.

"This is a moment of crisis for our country", he said.

Some British MPs fear the European Union will slap conditions on a delay, such as a demand that Britain hold a second referendum, or that Mrs May switch to pursuing a much closer future economic and political alignment between the bloc and its departing member. "Now we have this ruling to deal with, it is clearly going to require a lot of very fast but very deep thought in the hours ahead".

Her foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said: "If more time is needed, it's always better to do another round than a no-deal Brexit". "If Britain decides on nothing, then it chooses no deal", she said. It would face the prospect of manufacturing and financial market disruption, sharp economic contraction and border delays.

"Although Bercow's ambush will please certain No Deal advocates and other enemies of Theresa May, it has rightfully caused anger in Westminster and across the country, frustrating a plan that was starting to hold", it says.

"Grant an extension - what for?"

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"I don't have any appetite for substanceless discussions and negotiations on the Brexit".

The British government was not forewarned of Mr Bercow's statement, Mrs May's spokesman said after it was announced that the same Brexit deal could not be tabled for another vote.

The senior national diplomats in Brussels spoke on Monday afternoon (18 March) after the UK's speaker of parliament seemed to have dashed May's hopes for a third House of Commons vote - which had initially been expected as soon as this week - to approve her stalled divorce deal with the bloc.

Even before Bercow's intervention, May was having difficulty boosting support for her deal - which would set out to secure close trading ties with the European Union while leaving its formal structures - after it was defeated by 230 votes on January 15, and by 149 votes on March 12.

The next opportunity for EU leaders to discuss the issue will be at a two-day European Council (EC) meeting starting on Thursday - just a week before the current Brexit deadline of March 29.

While the vote doesn't remove the possibility of a Brexit, it does open the door for a delay to the major political move.

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