Bercow challenges PM to make significant changes to Brexit deal
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow put the dampeners on Theresa Mays plan to bring a third version of her Brexit plan to vote this week; by using a piece of legislation first conceived over 400 years ago.
Bercow warned May that her plan would need to change considerably if it was to be brought back to parliament for MPs to vote on once more, something which almost everyone in politics knows is not likely.
The utterance from the speaker on Monday afternoon came as a complete surprise to the house and especially he Prime Minister. The words which sent shockwaves around the Brexit sphere were as follows “Simply a change in an opinion about something wouldn’t in itself constitute a change in the offer.” One of the conditions for May to get a third meaningful vote is to negotiate a new deal with the EU, something which Michelle Barnier and co are not keen on.
The PMs deal had been shot to pieces from all corners of the commons, and Bercows warning is surely one of the last nails in its coffin. As a consequence, it further increases the chances of an extension to article 50 or even a cancellation of Brexit.
Claims from the right that he is a remainer may have some truth to them, yet the situation was in need of a solution which would prevent May returning to Parliament to once again grind out her deal and most likely, as she is failing to secure support from the DUP, a third defeat. Preventing further stalemate is the reasoning behind Bercows decision and given that there is only 10 days until the UK is still officially set to leave the EU, time is on no-ones side.
The role of speaker is usually to keep peace and make sure that parliament engages in sophisticated and practical discussion on the UKs political and social issues. With that in mind Bercows enrolment of the archaic legislation, which was first used in parliament in 1604, was vital in terms of saving time and moving the UK away from Mays version of Brexit.
He has built up a reputation of being an incredibly divisive individual and he is not afraid to put MPs in their place. Telling off front bench MPs for being on their phones during debates, which also happened on Monday afternoon, is exactly what is needed. Bercow won’t stop or speed up Brexit, but he has certainly shown he can steer our parliament away from stalemate.
An extension to article 50 seems more likely by the day and with it should see speculation of a second referendum increase. Either way, Bercow has shown that he is not afraid to use the rulings available to him to avoid further periods of time wasting in the Commons.