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Commons Speaker rejects Government bid for Brexit 'meaningful vote'

Speaker John Bercow speaking in the House of Commons in London after he rejected a Government bid to hold a Òmeaningful voteÓ on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal. Photo: House of Commons/PA Wire

By Harriet Line, PA Deputy Political Editor

Commons Speaker John Bercow has rejected a Government bid to hold a meaningful vote on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, saying it would be "repetitive and disorderly" to do so.

The Prime Minister had hoped to get the approval of MPs for his plans on Monday afternoon after he abandoned the vote on Saturday when the Commons backed a move forcing him to ask Brussels for a further Brexit delay.

But Mr Bercow said that the circumstances and the substance of the motion were the same as Saturday's and that it should not be debated on Monday because of the so-called "same question convention" preventing the same matter being discussed twice.

Mr Johnson will now seek to pass his deal without knowing whether enough MPs back his plan.

The Government is set to publish the Withdrawal Agreement Bill later on Monday, with the second reading debate due to take place on Tuesday.

Mr Bercow told the Commons: "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. My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so."

The Withdrawal Agreement Bill is the legally-binding treaty that must be passed for the UK to leave the EU, while the Government must also win a meaningful vote.

The requirement for the vote was put into law last year following a bid by former attorney general Dominic Grieve.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay called on MPs to "respect the referendum" by backing the Bill, warning them: "This is the chance to leave the EU with a deal on October 31."

Ministers insist they could have sufficient support among MPs to get it passed so the UK can depart by the current October 31 deadline.

But, with no Commons majority, Mr Johnson faces a major battle to achieve his pledge to lead the country out of the bloc on that date.

Labour has denied it is trying to scupper the PM's agreement by planning to amend it to secure a customs union and a second referendum as the legislation passes through Parliament.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Today: "We are not attempting to wreck it, we are attempting to safeguard the British economy, safeguard jobs and safeguard public services.

"We believe that the responsible way in which to leave the European Union is in a customs union arrangement and that, in turn, should be put to the British people so they can have a say on this."

Number 10 is opposed to a customs union and second referendum, and warned that if the legislation in the Commons "steps too far away" from what has been agreed with the EU then it would "bring into question ratification".

Meanwhile, judges at Scotland's highest civil court, who have been asked to rule on whether the PM lawfully complied with the Benn Act, delayed making a decision until it becomes clear to them it was "complied with in full".

Under the Benn Act, which was passed by MPs trying to fend off a no-deal Brexit, Mr Johnson was forced to send an unsigned letter to Brussels requesting an extension to the October 31 deadline because MPs did not support his deal on Saturday.

But he signed a second letter saying a delay would be a mistake.

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