Commons Speaker John Bercow rejects government bid to hold 'meaningful vote' on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Commons Speaker John Bercow has rejected the Government's request to table a so-called meaningful vote on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

Mr Bercow said it would be "repetitive and disorderly" to reconsider a matter already debated in Parliament.

The Prime Minister was forced to abandon plans to hold a meaningful vote on his Brexit deal during a special Saturday sitting of the Commons after an embarrassing defeat at the hands of former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin.

As a result of the Letwin amendment, Mr Johnson was forced to ask the EU for a Brexit extension.

Mr Bercow said the Government's motion on Monday was the same in substance as the one considered on Saturday by MPs.

He told the Commons: "It's clear that the motions are in substance the same.However, 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'."

The prime minister's spokesman said they would prefer to go ahead with the introduction of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

Why has John Bercow rejected the vote?

Mr Bercow said: "Today's motion is in substance the same as Saturday's motion, and the House has decided the matter.

"Today's circumstances are in substance the same as Saturday's circumstances.

"My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so."

Mr Bercow said the "same question convention" is "a necessary rule to ensure the sensible use of the House's time, and proper respect for the decisions that it takes".

What has been the reaction to Mr Bercow's decision?

Peter Bone argued against the Speaker's decision.

Downing Street has said the Government is "disappointed" with the Speaker's ruling not to allow a fresh vote.

The prime minister's official spokesman said they would now prefer to go ahead with the introduction of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

"We are disappointed that the Speaker has yet again denied us the chance to deliver on the will of the British people," the spokesman said.

Raising a point of order following the Speaker's decision, Conservative Brexiteer Peter Bone said: "When we were debating on Saturday, nobody knew whether the prime minister was going to send a letter or not, and since that has happened, whilst you are quite correct Sir to say the motion is the same, an event outside has dramatically changed it."

Pushing for the MPs to be able to vote on the prime minister's deal, Mr Bone added: "It would give the country the opportunity to know whether this House approves or disapproves of the prime minister's deal."

Mr Bercow replied: "I did not consider in reaching a judgment on this matter whether the letter would be sent, the letter was sent on Saturday evening.

"More widely however, the question of whether it would be a material consideration for the Chair whether a minister of the crown would obey the law, the honest answer to the honourable gentleman is that that consideration had not entered my mind as pertinent to my reflection on the matter."

Sir Bill Cash urged the Speaker to reconsider. Credit: PA

Fellow Brexiteer Sir Bill Cash added: "The Benn Act has not done anything yet, other than in respect of the letter, to change the repeal of the 1972 Act, therefore I would simply argue, and put it to you, that the question of whether or not, as you mentioned in your statement, there were issues relating to whether the law were being obeyed is not an issue at this stage in the proceedings.

"For that reason, I simply say to you if I may, would it be possible for you to reconsider your position, because I'm afraid that the reality is that the law of the land remains as I said last Friday."

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs the Government aimed to hold a meaningful vote on the Brexit deal on Monday - though Downing Street said the vote would be pulled if amendments are selected that would render the vote "pointless".

However, in order for a vote to be held, Mr Bercow - who Tory Brexiteers have accused of being pro-Remain - had to approve it.