Will Bercow block meaningful vote in Commons today?
The ‘will he won’t he’, ‘ deal or no deal’ conundrum has forced the Commons to focus even more urgently, and poignantly on the question of whether a Brexit deal can be managed by the Halloween deadline, with the emergency sitting on Saturday designed to concentrate minds.
Already shackled by Hilary Benn’s legislation, that prevents the PM crashing out with no deal, it was Tory MP Oliver Letwin whose amendment stopped the PM from having a vote on his newly negotiated deal, but now it appears that Johnson has another unseen hurdle in the form of John Bercow.
Parliamentary procedure is an intricate tangle of legal confusion and it is the Speaker’s job, in its very essence, to ensure that the work of parliament is carried out by the very letter of the law.
One of these so called procedural conventions, and indeed laws. is that no motion can be brought before the Commons more than once in any parliamentary session, and while the new Withdrawal vote wasn’t actually actioned this weekend, the motion was on the order book on Saturday.
It is therefore the Speaker’s decision whether or not to allow the PM to have a meaningful vote today.
John Bercow and the PM have always been on different sides of the Brexit argument and it has regularly been argued that the latter has made it more difficult for the government to proceed as it has wanted.
The Speaker would argue that he is simply applying the statute book as it is laid out and has been impartial, but many have suggested that because the times are so unique, he should apply more flexibility to his observations.
Currently Bercow is holding fire with his decision and it is suggested that he will make up his mind by 15.30 pm.
The government still believe they have the numbers to push ahead and succeed with a vote, but the process could well be scuppered further by Labour’s intention to put down a motion to insure that any deal ratified by parliament has to be endorsed finally by taking it to the electorate in a second referendum.
“He is perhaps the only Tory with a bigger personality than Johnson himself."