Speaker blocks British PM Boris Johnson's bid for new vote on Brexit
Speaker says Boris Johnson can't push for same Brexit measures twice
LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was dealt another blow yesterday when the Speaker of Parliament denied him a second shot at winning MPs' approval for his European Union divorce deal, with Brexit looming in just 10 days' time.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow - a colourful figure who has played a starring role in the Brexit drama - said Mr Johnson was not allowed to push for the same measures twice in the same parliamentary sitting.
Lawmakers, meeting on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years, had voted to demand that the Conservative prime minister delay Brexit while they further consider his newly-agreed EU divorce agreement.
"The motion will not be debated today because it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so," Mr Bercow said.
"Today's motion is in substance the same as Saturday's motion and the House has decided the matter."
Mr Johnson is trying to secure an Oct 31 break from Brussels that severs many of the island nation's economic relations with Europe after 46 years of EU membership.
But lawmakers refused on Saturday to give their backing to his revised settlement plan until all the domestic legislation needed to ratify it has passed.
They also mandated Mr Johnson to send a letter to Brussels asking to postpone the Brexit deadline until Jan 31 next year.
Mr Johnson's foes are now forging new alliances and trying to attach amendments that could either force him to push for closer trade ties with the EU - or abandon the deal and accept a third delay this year.
The option of extending Brexit past the latest Oct 31 deadline is now in the hands of the 27 remaining EU member states.
The top civil court in Scotland is due to hear a challenge yesterday on whether Mr Johnson's half-hearted request broke the law.
But officials in Brussels said Mr Johnson's request was valid.
The focus now switches on the government's attempt today to get lawmakers to support domestic legislation in the accompanying Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
Success or failure then would set the course for the coming week and largely determine whether Mr Johnson's will get his Oct 31 divorce.
But the deck against Mr Johnson seems stacked.
The main opposition Labour Party is trying to create a cross-party alliance that would back Mr Johnson's deal on the condition that it is fixed to keep Britain in a customs union with the EU.
Mr Johnson and his supporters have said that this would kill the point of Brexit by keeping Britain tied to Europe and unable to strike its own trade deals with powers such as China and the US.
Labour is trying to create a quick marriage of convenience with the British Prime Minister's nominal allies in Northern Ireland's hardline Democratic Unionist Party.
The DUP broke ranks and voted against Mr Johnson's agreement on Saturday because it created new trade regulations for goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. - AFP