Commons Speaker John Bercow blasts ‘deeply discourteous’ May for pulling the crunch Brexit vote at the eleventh hour and urges her to put the decision to a vote
- John Bercow gave Theresa May extraordinary dressing down in the Commons
- He said MPs across the political divide are furious she has pulled the Brexit vote
- He urged the PM to give MPs a vote on whether or not to delay the Brexit vote
- If PM follows the advice then she could still be defeated in the Commons tonight
Commons Speaker John Bercow today furiously blasted Theresa May’s ‘deeply discourteous’ decision to pull the crunch Brexit vote at the eleventh hour.
In an extraordinary ticking off, he warned the PM that MPs across the political divide are furious at the decision, which comes after ministers spent days insisting the vote was on.
In a stern rebuke delivered in the packed Commons chamber, he urged ministers to put the decision to delay it to a vote of MPs tonight.
But No10 snubbed the plea and a spokesman for the PM confirmed that no vote will be held.
The dressing down is a fresh blow for the PM whose authority has been left in tatters after she announced the humiliating U-turn to the Commons today.
Mrs May said she had decided to pull the vote because she would have lost if it had gone ahead tomorrow night.
Speaking from the Commons chair today, Mr Bercow said: ‘Halting the debate after no fewer than 164 colleagues have taken the trouble to contribute will be thought by many members of this House to be deeply discourteous.’
Commons Speaker John Bercow (pictured in the Commons today) furiously blasted Theresa May’s ‘deeply discourteous’ decision to pull the crunch Brexit vote at the eleventh hour
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He added: ‘Indeed in the hours since news of this intention emerged, many colleagues across the house have registered that view to me in the most forceful terms.’
He revealed that ministers can go ahead and pull tomorrow’s vote without having to formally consult MPs.
But he urged them to put the decision to a vote tonight so that MPs can have their say.
He said that ‘in democratic terms’ this would be ‘infinitely preferable way’ to proceed as ‘this would give the House the opportunity to express its view in a vote – whether or not it wishes the debate to be brought to a premature and inconclusive end’.
The Prime Minister (pictured returning to Downing Street today) is battling for her political life amid a huge rebellion over her Brexit deal
He admitted that there is a second option, for the government to ‘unilaterally decline to move today’s business’.
He said this would mean the Commons would be ‘deprived’ on voting on the Brexit deal and whether or not a vote on the deal should be held.
EU court rules Britain CAN just cancel the Article 50 Brexit process
European Court of Justice judge Carl Gustav Fernlund read out the ruling on Article 50 at the court in Luxembourg today (pictured)
EU judges delivered a boost for Remainer rebels today by ruling that Britain can unilaterally cancel Brexit.
The European Court of Justice decided that Article 50 can be withdrawn by the UK without permission from other member states.
Britain would keep its current terms of membership if it quit the process – meaning keeping the rebate, the opt out from the Euro and exemptions from the Schengen passport-free zone.
Today’s ruling will encourage hopes from pro-EU MPs that a second referendum can be held to stop the UK from leaving the bloc altogether.
But Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the ruling was ‘irrelevant’ as it was ‘certainly not the intention of the government’ to delay Brexit.
The case was brought by a cross-party group of Scottish politicians together with lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC, director of the Good Law Project.
Mr Bercow added: ‘I politely suggest that in any courteous respectful and mature environment allowing the house to have a say – its say – on this matter would be the right and dare I say it the obvious course to take.
‘Let us see if those who have assured this House, and the public, over and over and over again that this supremely important vote is going to take place tomorrow without fail, which to rise to the occasion.’
His highly unusual dressing down of the PM came on another day of high political drama in Westminster.
The morning kicked off to a shambolic start for Number Ten as they sent ministers out to insist that the crunch vote would go ahead tomorrow night.
But within an hour the Government had issued an about turn, with news leaking out that the vote would be delayed so the PM could avoid what looked set to be a massive and humiliating defeat.
And she faced ridicule of MPs as she went to the Commons this afternoon to confirm the U-turn.
She vowed to improve her Brexit deal and said she will tour European capitals and then go back to Brussels to try to secure sweeteners that might buy off huge opposition to the package.
She insisted her blueprint was still the ‘best deal negotiable’, and said she still planned to put it to a vote once ‘reassurances’ had been secured on the Irish border backstop – but implied that might not happen until well into the New Year.
In words that raise doubts about whether the tweaks will be enough, Mrs May made clear she is not demanding the EU drops the backstop.
Amid a cacophony of taunts and barracking from MPs in the chamber, Mrs May said: ‘While there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal on one issue – the Northern Ireland backstop – there remains widespread and deep concern.
‘As a result, if we went ahead and held that vote that deal would be rejected by a significant margin.
‘We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow, and not proceed to divide the House at this time.’
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