Speaker of the House invokes Parliamentary Protocol from 1604

Summary:

  • Monday, March 18, 2019, saw the Prime Minister blocked from putting forward the Brexit “Withdrawal Agreement” that the UK Government negotiated with the EU to a third Parliamentary vote. John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, who in accordance with longstanding UK Parliamentary protocol, decides on whether to allow any vote, told the UK Government that it cannot bring the deal back for a third vote unless substantial changes are made to it. In making this announcement, he invoked Parliamentary protocol dating back to 1604, which added a constitutional issue to the Brexit proceedings.
  • This latest development puts even more onus on Thursday’s EU Summit in Brussels. The EU, which per comments from a number of foreign ministers of member states, is displeased with this event. It is expected to formally agree on a new delayed Brexit date on Thursday, March 21, 2019. It is widely believed that, if EU officials issue a summit communique with legal force (known as “council conclusions”) containing this new Brexit date, this will suffice as a “substantial” change for the Speaker, thereby allowing the Prime Minister to bring the Withdrawal Agreement back to a third vote.
  • It is still unclear whether EU leaders will push for a three-month or nine-month extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process, although political commentary would suggest that the latter remains more likely as this is the preferred option as expressed by senior EU figures.
  • Monday’s developments served to further cloud the Brexit horizon; simultaneously raising new fears of a No-Deal Brexit in 10 days’ time and breathing new life into the Second Referendum campaign.