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United Kingdom to request Brexit extension amid "crisis" over third Parliamentary vote

20 March 2019

John Bercow provoked uproar at Westminster on Monday when he ruled that the Government can not bring the Prime Minister's deal back for a third "meaningful vote" unless there were substantial changes.

Parliamentary rules dictate that substantially similar proposals can not be voted on in the House of Commons a couple of times during the same session of parliament, Bercow said, citing precedent dating back to 1604.

He said the "government can not legitimately... resubmit to the House [of Commons] the same proposition or substantially the same proposition as that of last week".

"I will fight to the last hour of the deadline on 29 March for an orderly exit", she told a press conference in Berlin.

Maddy Thimont Jack, a researcher at the Institute for Government in London, said that while Bercow's decision clearly frustrates Theresa May's initial plans to bring a third " meaningful vote" back to parliament this week, it does not prevent her doing so.

But the spokesman said: "She has said in the House of Commons that she does not want there to be a long delay and that she believes asking the British public to take part in European elections three years after they voted to leave the EU would represent a failure by politicians".

He declined to say how long a delay she would request, or for what objective, simply insisting, "you're going to have to wait for that letter to be published".

Bercow said on Monday that his ruling should not be considered his last word and the government could bring forward a new proposition that was not the same as those already voted upon.

The big question now is whether the EU27 leaders will grant an extension when they meet on Thursday (the decision has to be unanimous but the European Union council tends to work by consensus).

If it left this way, Britain would quit the EU's 500 million-strong single market and customs union overnight, falling back on World Trade Organisation rules that could mean many import and export tariffs.

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However, it is not immediately known how long of an extension she will now ask for or what British parliament can agree on ahead of her meeting. The problem for May is that negotiations have finished and time has nearly run out before the due to leave the bloc on March 29.

Best for Britain supporter Gareth Thomas said: "The prime minister's deal has been rejected twice, both times by historic margins". May returned to Brussels after that vote, negotiated some changes and submitted the revised deal to Parliament.

Meanwhile, British MPs could be heading back to the Commons this week to vote on Mrs May's deal for a third time, as long as it has fundamentally changed.

"Although Bercow's ambush will please certain No Deal advocates and other enemies of Theresa May, it has rightfully caused anger in Westminster and across the country, frustrating a plan that was starting to hold", it says.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said that despite Bercow's ruling, the deal could be voted on again if "the circumstances have changed".

Ministers discussed Brexit for around 90 minutes at what several sources said was a testy cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The politician's comment comes days after British lawmakers in Parliament voted in favor of a delay in the country's departure from the European Union, just weeks before the United Kingdom was due to leave. The EU is clear it is the only deal on the table.

In practice Mrs May's hopes for winning on her tattered deal had looked faint anyway - though Mr Bercow's move will be seen in Brussels as further evidence of Britain's Brexit chaos.

This morning, the European Council President Donald Tusk travelled to Dublin to meet with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

United Kingdom to request Brexit extension amid