House Speaker prevents Brexit vote

Theresa May wanted to present her Brexit deal to the House of Commons again today, but parliamentary speaker John Bercow has prevented another vote on the agreement. Now the prime minister must either make changes to it, dissolve parliament or secure the support of a majority of MPs to push through a third vote. Was this a good move by Bercow?

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Les Echos (FR) /

Bercow is the man of the hour

Les Echos praises Bercow's strategic move:

“In John Bercow's chaotic country his most important task seems to be to shout 'Order!' at every opportunity. His voice is as strong as his ties are garish; the speaker of the House of Commons is the man of the hour in this chaotic parliament. ... Now he's dug out an old text dating back to 1604 which, according to him, prevents the House from voting again on a question on which it has already expressed itself. That puts an end to May's demand for a new vote on the Brexit deal as it now stands. This could oblige London to ask Brussels for a new postponement and thus give it more time to smooth out the rough edges.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Not the way to get a postponement

The speaker of the British parliament is making the situation even more complicated than it already was, Jutarnji list argues:

“The situation in Britain is such a mess that a law from the 17th century that says that the same bill can't be put to vote without changes within the same parliamentary session is being cited. For this reason it's unclear whether a third parliamentary vote on the agreement will be at all possible. If the motion [for the Brexit deal] does miraculously get through it would be easier for the EU to grant Britain a postponement. Because then it would know for what purpose the Brexit is being postponed for several months and the situation would be a little more predictable.”

The Times (GB) /

Gordian knot cannot be unravelled

It's not the prime minister's fault that Brexit is proving such a challenge for British politics, The Times argues:

“These conditions of departure are not the result of Mrs May's irresolution or want of negotiating skills. They are just what Brexit is. What it always has been. And what it always will be. … It isn't the backstop that traps us. It is the need to find a solution to the border with Ireland. And that isn't going away, because there isn't a solution to the border with Ireland. … Whoever is Conservative leader after Theresa May - Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump - Britain will still be in the same position, with a relatively weak negotiating hand facing a fairly united negotiating partner.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

At least London still engages in debate

The Berliner Zeitung finds the contemptuous attitude of the Germans regarding the chaos in the House of Commons cheap and primitive:

“We must understand that it takes time to overcome the deep divides in the country with the instruments of representative democracy. ... Where in Germany do we have such passionate debates? How would Angela Merkel look if she had to answer for her every decision in a constant, public, face-to-face battle of words with the opposition leaders for days on end - while at the same time under pressure from her own party? Compared with the House of Commons' time-honoured customs and seating plan our Bundestag is a sterile, authoritarian and inflexible organisation.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Pushed her luck and lost

John Bercow has put an end to May's strategy of running down the clock, The Guardian concludes:

“It blasts the prime minister's plans for the week off course. ... Might some Tories or members of the DUP have acted differently had they known it was May's last shot at getting her deal through? Certainly the prime minister's strategy has depended on eliminating options, so that eventually MPs would conclude that the only feasible Brexit on the table was hers. For that to work, she needed to keep bluffing and keep raising the stakes. She didn't realise that ultimately, in parliament, it's the Speaker who runs the game. And now all bets are off.” (DE) /

May's resignation is overdue

May still bears the brunt of the blame for the crisis, writes London correspondent Jens-Peter Marquart on

“Not even in our worst nightmares back in 2016 could we have dreamt that Theresa May would make such a thorough mess of the exit from the European Union. ... At the end of the week the prime minister will once again head to an EU summit empty-handed, helpless and without a plan. But with the request that the other 27 leaders once again postpone the Brexit. Why? To what end? For how long? It's time this prime minister finally stopped getting on the rest of the EU's nerves. Her resignation is overdue. Perhaps another prime minister can find an idea somewhere in Britain's long history for how to make an elegant exit from the EU.”