Boris Johnson has been denied the opportunity to hold a second vote on his Brexit deal in the House of Commons after the Speaker, John Bercow, ruled that it would be “repetitive and disorderly”.
Bercow said it would break longstanding conventions for MPs to debate and vote on the agreement struck in Brussels last week, little more than two days after Saturday’s historic sitting.
“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,” Bercow said in the Commons on Monday.
He added: “The motion will not be debated today, as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.”
The government was defeated on Saturday by a cross-party group of MPs led by the former Tory cabinet minister Oliver Letwin, seeking to avoid the risk of a no-deal Brexit and allow more time for parliament to scrutinise the withdrawal agreement.
They amended the government’s motion to say MPs would withhold their approval from Johnson’s last-minute deal until the legislation enacting it has been implemented.
That then forced the government to comply with the requirements of the Benn act, and send a letter to the EU27 requesting a delay to Brexit. Had Johnson won a vote on Monday, the letter could have been rescinded. Bercow said that did not in itself constitute a change in circumstances significant enough to justify a fresh consideration of the government’s Brexit plans.
After Saturday’s vote, which the government lost by 322 votes to 306 – a majority of 16 – the amended motion was not pressed to a division by either side, meaning that it passed “on the nod” – without a vote.
The leader of the Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, then announced the government would seek to hold another “meaningful vote” on Johnson’s deal on Monday. A number of MPs objected on Saturday and Bercow said he would consider over the rest of the weekend whether he would allow the issue to be debated and voted on again.
Despite having reluctantly been compelled to send a letter asking for an extension to article 50, Johnson’s government still hopes to push the legislation necessary to enact Brexit through parliament in time to meet the 31 October deadline.
The withdrawal agreement bill was expected to be published later on Monday, with the key second reading vote likely to be held on Tuesday.
MPs from across the house are then likely to table a string of amendments seeking to tweak the Brexit deal, including to force the government to negotiate a customs union with the EU27 and to subject it to a “people’s vote”.