LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a potentially perilous ratification of his Brexit divorce deal in the British parliament after the speaker refused to allow a vote on it on Monday.
With just 10 days left until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31, the divorce is again in disarray as Britain’s politicians argue over whether to leave with a deal, exit without a deal or hold another referendum.
House of Commons speaker John Bercow said a vote should not be allowed on Monday as the same issue had been discussed on Saturday when opponents turned Johnson’s big Brexit day into a humiliation.
"In summary, today’s motion is in substance the same as Saturday’s motion and the House (of Commons) has decided the matter. Today’s circumstances are in substance the same as Saturday’s circumstances," Bercow told parliament.
"My ruling is therefore that the motion will not be debated today as it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so."
The decision by the speaker means that the government will have to try to push on with the legislation needed for ratification that opponents are plotting to wreck with amendments that would destroy Johnson’s deal.
Johnson was ambushed in parliament on Saturday by opponents who demanded a change to the sequencing of the ratification of the deal, exposing the prime minister to a law which forced him to request a delay until Jan. 31.
Johnson sent the note to the EU unsigned – and added another signed letter arguing against what he said was a deeply corrosive delay. The EU has accepted the first letter as valid but not yet given a final response on an extension. It is preparing the steps needed to ratify the deal in the European Parliament, however.
The British government insists the country will leave the EU on Oct. 31. Parliament will vote in the second reading on legislation known as the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Tuesday, after which amendments can be proposed to it.