Theresa May cannot hold third vote on her Brexit deal, says John Bercow

Theresa MayCHRISTOPHER FURLONG/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Theresa May could be barred from holding another vote on her Brexit deal.
  • House of Commons speaker John Bercow said parliamentary precedent means governments cannot ask MPs to vote repeatedly on the same proposition.

LONDON - Theresa May cannot hold a third vote on her Brexit deal, according to an explosive intervention from House of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Speaking on Monday, Bercow said that parliamentary precedent barred the government from holding repeated votes on the main motion.

He cited a passage in Erskine May, the parliamentary handbook, which states: "A motion or amendment which is the same, in substance, as a question which has been decided in the affirmative or negative during the current session may not be forwarded again during that session."

The Speaker told MPs: "The government cannot legitimately resubmit the same proposition, or substantially the same proposition, as last week which was rejected by 149 votes."

But Dr Hannah White, deputy director of the Institute for Government, said that parliament could overrule convention if it is clear there is majority support for the deal.

"Bercow [is] ruling that MV3 might fall foul of convention that House should not be asked 'same' question more than once in same Session," White tweeted.

"But House could still explicitly decide to set aside this convention I think if the Government could get a majority to vote for that."

May has already held two votes on her Brexit deal, both of which were rejected by MPs, and had planned to hold a third.

Bercow said the second vote had been permissible because the prime minister added documents to the proposal which changed the deal in substance after the first vote.

The EU has already stated that it will not offer any new concessions on the Withdrawal Agreement, creating a huge headache for Downing Street, which is likely to challenge Bercow's position.

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