MPs reactions to Bercow's decision to rule out Meaningful Vote

21 October 2019, 17:07

MPs react to Bercow's decision
MPs react to Bercow's decision. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Speaker John Bercow chose not to hold a Meaningful Vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal on Monday saying "it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so."

ERG member Peter Bone expressed his annoyance with the Speaker and attempted but failed to make a point of order to change Bercow's ruling.

His argument was that now Boris Johnson had sent a letter to the EU, it changed the circumstances surrounding the Meaningful Vote motion.

He said: "When we were debating on Saturday no one knew if the prime minister was going to send a letter or not."

Conservative MP Bill Cash asked the Speaker to "reconsider" his decision because the "law of the land" has not changed.

Sir Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, seemed to accuse Mr Bercow of bias in the House of Commons.

He said: "I appreciate that it’s not always easy to please both sides, but it’s becoming remarkable how you always seem to pass judgement for one side.

"My committee will be holding an enquiry into the role of the Speaker given events of the recent weeks.”

The Speaker responded to the criticism by defending his impartiality in the House and made "no apology" for his decision.

Responding to Sir Bernard, he said: "When he was getting the decisions in his favour he wasn’t grumbling, he’s grumbling now because he doesn’t like the judgement.

"Nothing in what I have said, in any way impinges upon the opportunity for the government to secure approval of its deal."

Labour's Caroline Flint also challenged the MP for Buckingham and picked holes in the Benn Act.

David Davies asked: "Can you understand why some people perceive that the only consistency one can find in your rulings is that they always seem to favour one side of the argument and never the government?"

Bercow thanked Mr Davies for his "explicit direct challenge."

"I respect that [challenge]. He's challenging me directly. I don't agree with him. I think the consistent thread is that I try to do what I think is right by the House of Commons."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn requested a statement from the prime minister on the publication of the legislation and his extension letter.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay replied saying the Bill will be published and introduced for first reading today.

Mr Corbyn responded: "I do admire the Secretary of State for keeping a straight face while he gave that answer.

"The prime minister has not deigned to grace us with his presence today but I'm reassured that despite his pledge he's not to be found anywhere in a ditch."

Pro-Remain Ken Clarke asked: "Can the government stop giving this sacred quality to the date of Oct 31st?

"The date was not selected by the British public or the British government. It was a compromise selected in the EU between President Macron and the rest."

The SNP leader Ian Blackford later questioned whether Mr Johnson was showing respect to the House of Commons after being "utterly humiliated" by Saturday's defeat.

Announcing the decision, Speaker John Bercow said: "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."