Brexit: Bercow rules out vote on EU withdrawal deal without changes

World Today

It’s another week of fast-moving Brexit developments. The British Speaker of the House of Commons has ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot put the same EU withdrawal deal to a vote for the third time.

CGTN’s Gerald Tan guides us through what’s ahead.

When will Britain leave the European Union – And what will its departure look like? The answers seem to keep changing, so what do we know for sure?

On Jan 15, MPs overwhelmingly rejected the Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with the EU by 230 votes. It was one of the worst defeats in the history of the UK parliament.

Last week, she presented what she said was a better proposal but failed again, although by a narrower margin – 149 votes this time.

May planned a third vote, but the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow ruled against it on Monday unless the proposed deal was substantially different. MPs voted last week to seek a Brexit extension beyond the current March 29 deadline. They voted against leaving without a deal, and also ruled out a second referendum.

But now, the European Union has the final say. This issue is set to top the agenda of the EU Summit on Thursday, as any extension requires the unanimous approval of the other 27 members.

Some EU leaders are taking a tough stance. The EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier says, “This treaty is the only one possible and available. And in order to go further, we do not need a negative vote against the treaty or against a no-deal, we need a positive and constructive vote.”

When asked if an extension could be granted, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius explained, “It’s not just a done deal, you know. It should be discussed, negotiated and clear reasons should be provided why the UK needs an extension longer or shorter. This is not yet done.”

So, why can’t Theresa May’s deal get through Parliament? Perhaps the biggest sticking point is the so-called “Irish backstop.” It ensures there will be no physical border — or customs agents — between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Opponents say it will keep Britain and Northern Ireland in the EU indefinitely.

May says that failure to agree on her current deal could mean the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal.

She adds that if Parliament fails to approve a deal, Britain may never leave Europe. In short, it’s her Brexit, or no Brexit at all.