Published On: Wed, Apr 3rd, 2019

Brexit news: Bercow intervention FIRST TIME Speaker has voted since Maastricht crisis | UK | News

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John Bercow was forced to intervene in a key Brexit vote in the House of Commons today after MPs’ decision to hold more indicative votes ended in a tie. MPs were deciding on whether time should be put aside on Monday for politicians to have another chance to try and find a majority for a Brexit deal in a third round of indicative votes.  Following Mr Bercow’s intervention, Tory MP Sir Patrick McLoughlin asked the Speaker: “Mr Speaker, I cannot recall when this last happened. I am sure you have been told the precedence. Perhaps you would like to inform the House as to when it was last happened?” 

In response, the Speaker grinned and said: “In my recollection, that I have been saying this for years across the country to audiences so I hope it is right, is that the last occasion on which the Speaker had to exercise a casting vote was in 1993 and I believe I’ll be corrected by the honourable gentleman and member for Stone, if I am wrong, was appertaining to the Maastricht Treaty Bill.”

Mr Bercow said he was “probably pushing his luck” but added: “I think it was on an amendment relating to the social chapter.

“And it was an amendment relating to the then leader of the opposition, I believe, and Speaker Boothroyd cast her vote in the way that she did against that amendment.”

After MPs voted 310 in favour of more votes to 310 against, the Speaker was forced to make the rare intervention and cast the deciding vote.

Mr Bercow explained his decision to block more indicative votes and said: “The rationale, I say this with as much a benefit of new members, as of others, for the exercise of the casting vote is, as I have said, it is not for the chair to create a majority that doesn’t otherwise exist.

“The way in which the casting vote is exercised does also depend upon the stage at which a matter is being aired.”

Before the result was announced, staunch Brexiteer MP Mark Francois mockingly suggested MPs should vote again: “Can we have a people’s vote and do it twice?”

The motion was seeking to secure the time needed to hold a third round of indicative votes after Parliament failed to find common ground on the favoured Brexit option on Monday April, 1 and last Wednesday.

All options put to the vote over the past two weeks were flatly rejected, forcing Theresa May to hold a tense Cabinet meeting with her top ministers before announcing plans to request a further extension to the Brexit process.

The UK is scheduled to quit the EU on April 12 at 11pm unless Brussels agrees to a further extension or Mrs May secures support for her withdrawal deal – which was defeated three times since January.

In 1993, the then Speaker Betty Boothroyd used her casting vote to support the Government in defeating the Social Chapter amendment.

However, shortly after her vote, it was discovered it was not required, as the votes had been miscounted and the Government had in fact won by one vote.

The UK officially joined the EU’s economic bloc in January, 1993.

However, it was the Maastricht Treaty, signed by former Prime Minister John Major in 1992, that established the Single Market as we know it today – and laid the foundations for a monetary union with a single currency and new rules on inflation, debt and interest rate regulations.

The signing of the treaty sparked a civil war within the Conservative Party in Britain, and Baroness Thatcher accused her successor of “putting his head in the fire”, claiming that the Treaty would “diminish democracy and increase bureaucracy” in Britain.



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