Boris Johnson’s bid to hold second Brexit vote rejected
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has rejected Boris Johnson’s attempt to hold a second “meaningful vote” on his new Brexit deal, ruling that the move violates parliamentary conventions.
The UK prime minister is now expected to try to secure a majority for his deal when legislation implementing the deal is put to a vote in the Commons on Tuesday.
Mr Johnson had hoped to hold a new “meaningful vote” on Monday night, replacing the vote aborted by the government on Saturday after MPs in effect voted to delay giving their approval.
But Mr Bercow said in the Commons on Monday afternoon he had judged that the motion tabled by the government was “in substance the same” to the motion presented on Saturday. It is against parliamentary practice to allow the same measure to be presented more than once in one parliamentary session.
“My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so,” he told MPs.
“This matter was decided fewer than 49 hours ago. After more than three hours of debate the House voted by 322 to 306 for Sir Oliver Letwin’s amendment, which stated that ‘this House has considered the matter but withholds approval unless and until implementing legislation is passed’.”
Mr Bercow said the “same question convention” that prohibits the same motion being presented more than once was “a necessary rule to ensure the sensible use of the House’s time, and proper respect for the decisions that it takes”.
The government is likely later on Monday to publish the withdrawal agreement bill, the long-awaited detailed legislation that puts Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal — an international treaty — into British domestic law.
MPs have not yet seen the bill but will be expected to give it a second reading — the main “in principle vote” — on Tuesday.
If Mr Johnson wins Tuesday’s vote he has indicated he will bring forward a “programme motion” to accelerate the Brexit legislation through the Commons and Lords in time for the October 31 Brexit deadline.
According to an analysis by the Financial Times based on past voting records and public statements, there could be a majority of five for the Brexit deal. Some 320 MPs appear set to back Mr Johnson’s deal, with 315 opposed.
However, he faces moves from opposition parties to amend the withdrawal agreement bill to try to force a second referendum or keep Britain in the EU customs union.
Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, has said Labour could back the new deal provided it was subject to a second referendum.