May Thinks Bercow Is Jerk Now

I’m feeling rather smug.

This morning, when I wrote about potential outcomes this week, I wrote this:

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 18.07.19

Lo and behold, Mr. Speaker has proved me right. This afternoon, he gave a statement that said that Theresa May cannot bring her deal to Parliament for a third time if it “remains substantially the same”.

What Does That Mean?

Theresa May was gambling on bringing her deal back for one last roll of the dice – what has changed is that since the last vote, no-deal has been taken off the table and an extension to Article 50 is guaranteed.

  • Because of these developments, previously reluctant MPs might have changed their minds and vote in favour for it rather than see Brexit delayed or cancelled.
  • May has been proactively trying to recruit the DUP and Brexiteers over the weekend for exactly this reason.

What hasn’t changed is the deal itself. This means that under a law set out in Erskine May, the rulebook for Parliamentary proceedings, it cannot be brought to the House again in the same “Session,” or current government and Parliament (a new session starts after a general election).

  • The reason why it was allowed to come back for a second vote in the first place was that there was a change to the backstop between the votes – similar changes would need to be seen for Bercow to allow it for a third time.

So What Happens Now?

For now, May’s deal is dead. Unless she can magically get some concessions from the EU on Thursday that changes the deal, she cannot bring it back to the House of Commons.

So, finally, we start to tackle what we do instead. There are currently no plans for any different strategies to be put to the house before May goes to Brussels on Thursday, but that might well change. Given the EU will look at today and think that a long extension is all but guaranteed (a short one would only have been for implementing May’s deal), they may ask what we will use that extension for.

That would require us to have a plan in place – currently, we have the square root of sod all. The Kyle-Wilson amendment could now be the only way for May’s deal to have a chance of being passed – you can read more about it in my earlier article here.

However, we shall have to wait and see over the next couple of days what the actual outcome will be…

Was Bercow Right to Make This Ruling?

If it really is the end of the deal, it’s a fittingly damp squib of a way for it to go out – with a small squeak and a squelch of Bercow’s boot. May has been trying to hammer the deal through the wall of opposition by using scare tactics and fear-mongering more than any kind of positivity – she was, essentially, trying to manipulate her colleagues rather than inspire them.

Whatever the outcome of Brexit, I hope that we one day go back to feeling proud of our leaders, and not just mildly apathetic. Or despairing.

Whatever you think of Bercow, be it odious little toad or hilarious toff trouble-maker, his ruling today told May that her tactics were not in keeping with the spirit of Parliamentary process, let alone legal.

I, for one, welcome it.


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