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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Bercow does his job and the Tories go into meltdown

Throughout the Brexit process there has been a tendency by those seeking to leave the EU to blame the messenger when things do not go their way. Thus, the reaction to John Bercow's reassertion of basic Parliamentary procedure is entirely predictable.

As the Guardian reports, the Speaker's ruling has allegedly sparked a constitutional crisis. Why that is so is difficult to ascertain, as this whole scenario was entirely predictable.

The paper says that with 11 days to go until Britain is due to leave the EU, May has been forced to pull her plans for another meaningful vote because John Bercow said she could not ask MPs to pass the same deal, after they rejected it twice by huge margins:

Quoting from the guide to parliamentary procedure, Erskine May, Bercow said the question “may not be brought forward again during the same session” and that it was a “strong and longstanding convention” dating back to 1604. It must be “not different in terms of wording, but different in terms of substance”, he said, suggesting there must be a change in what the EU is offering.

Bercow’s surprise intervention means May is likely to have to go to Thursday’s Brussels summit with a request for a long extension to article 50, which could mean the UK has to spend more than £100m on participating in European parliament elections.

During the delay, parliament would have to make a decision on how to break the deadlock, potentially with a second referendum, an election or a cross-party proposal for a softer Brexit. Alternatively, government sources suggested May could negotiate a lengthy extension with the EU, with a “get-out clause” enabling it to be cut short if her Brexit deal is passed by parliament before the European parliamentary elections.

Whatever some newspapers and Tory MPs may say, it is Theresa May who has painted herself into a corner here, all Bercow has done is to publicly point out her dilemma. The upshot is that the UK itself is in jeopardy of crashing over the no-deal cliff.
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