John Bercow rejects Boris Johnson's Brexit "meaningful vote" as Government ramps up no-deal planning

21 October 2019, 15:38

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

John Bercow has rejected demands from the Government to allow MPs to have a "meaningful vote" on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

The Speaker said the motion was "in substance" the same motion that was considered on Saturday by the House of Commons. He said it would be "repetitive and disorderly" to bring the deal back into the Commons again today.

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'."

Commons Speaker John Bercow
Commons Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA

Conservative MP Peter Bone addressed the House following the decision. He said when the Prime Minister sent a letter to the EU asking for an extension it meant the motion was changed.

Earlier, Downing Street said it would pull Monday's vote if any amendments are selected which would "render the vote pointless".

"There is no point having a meaningless vote - the Government would pull the motion. We will go ahead with the introduction of the WAB with second reading tomorrow," the PM's official spokesman said."

Mr Bercow said the Government can now legitimately introduce its EU Withdrawal and Implementation Bill.

He said the Bill has been presented for its first reading today.

Mr Bercow added: "I have no doubt that the leader will offer further details of the intended timetable for the Bill when he makes a business statement later today."

Delivering a statement to MPs on the Government's preparations for no-deal, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove said: "Parliament had the opportunity on Saturday to support a meaningful vote which would have allowed us to proceed smoothly to ratification of our deal and exit on October 31, but the House instead voted in such a way as to put an orderly exit on that day in doubt."

Mr Gove continued: "With no clear agreement yet in this House to ratify our Withdrawal Agreement, and no certainty that an extension will be granted by October 31, I must, I fear, take the appropriate steps now to prepare for the increased possibility that the legal default position will follow, and we will leave on October 31 without a deal.

"The clear advice to me now from officials is that we must now intensify contingency arrangements."

He added: "We will now accelerate our efforts to help businesses and individuals mitigate any dislocation and disruption that may ensue.

"Hundreds of public servants across the UK will have to be redeployed, they will transfer to work in operation centres ready to identify challenges, work together to resolve problems quickly, and implement contingency plans."

Mr Gove continued: "And of course we must maintain our public information campaign, from tomorrow this will reflect the renewed urgency of preparation."