Theresa May is mulling her next steps this morning after her Brexit plan was spectacularly torpedoed by the House of Commons Speaker.
John Bercow warned she would not be able to hold yet another vote on her deal unless she makes it “substantially” different.
This means getting a new offer from the EU at a crunch summit this Thursday – where she’ll ask for Brexit to be delayed.
Meanwhile the government is in chaos after Speaker Bercow’s ruling – with one minister admitting it’s a “major constitutional crisis” and threatening to end the current parliament.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said today: “This is a moment of crisis for our country.”
Legally there are just 10 days left to Brexit. But the reality is we could be facing a delay of a year.
Here are 5 fast facts you need to know this Tuesday morning
1. Theresa May’s Cabinet is summoned to agree a plan
Theresa May will convene a meeting of her Cabinet from 9.30am after her Brexit plans were dealt a killer blow by the Commons Speaker.
John Bercow scuppered the chance of another Commons vote on the Prime Minister’s deal before Thursday’s EU summit, leading one minister to warn that the Government faces a “major constitutional crisis”.
A Number 10 spokesman said Speaker John Bercow’s statement requires “proper consideration”.
But privately sources were a lot more blunt, furiously saying the speaker – who’s regularly accused of anti-Brexit bias – was trying to ensure a softer departure from the EU.
Sources now believe it’s nigh on impossible that a third vote on Theresa May’s deal – previously voted down by majorities of 230 and 149 – will go back to MPs this week.
2. The government could go to war with the Speaker
A top Cabinet minister today threatened to go to war with the Speaker, suggesting Theresa May could ignore the ruling.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay claimed Speaker Bercow’s judgement didn’t “align” with things he’d said previously.
That implies the Cabinet could decide to railroad through its decision anyway – and say it’s the Speaker’s fault for being inconsistent.
“The Speaker’s the referee and it’s important that all of us in the House of Commons respect the speaker,” Mr Barclay told Sky News.
“But the Speaker himself has pointed to possible solutions.
“He himself has said in earlier rulings that we shouldn’t be bound by precedent, and this is based on a precedent going back to 1604.
“The Speaker himself has said that where the will of the house is for a certain course of action, it’s important that that will of the house is respected.
“It’s important that we look at his previous rulings in the context of yesterday’s ruling as part of taking our next step.”
Mr Barclay added: “We need to look at the detail of the ruling. We need to consider that in the context of some earlier rulings that don’t particularly align with yesterday’s ruling.”
3. Brexit faces being delayed for a year
Theresa May is now poised to ask for Brexit to be delayed by a year, according to The Sun.
The Prime Minister is now doomed to asking 27 EU leaders for a delay at this Thursday’s summit in Brussels.
She had agreed to ask for a “short” three-month delay if a deal was passed, but a much longer one if it wasn’t.
With pretty much no hope of passing a deal by tomorrow night’s deadline, she’s now poised to formally ask for a long delay.
Reports suggest that request will be for 9 to 12 months.
But there’s a catch – reports also suggest she’ll ask for a get-out clause that would allow the delay to be shorter if, somehow, a deal is approved at the last minute before next Friday.
Reports coming out of Brussels would appear to back this up.
Senior diplomats tell Reuters that EU leaders could hold off making any final decision, or implementing it, until as late as a few hours before midnight on March 29.
4. But it looks like ‘ending’ Parliament is off
Last night Solicitor General Robert Buckland admitted Britain is in a “major constitutional and political crisis.”
And he claimed one option could be to “prorogue” Parliament – effectively shutting it and reopening it again for a new session.
That would get round the Speaker’s ruling – but would mean ditching dozens of half-finished laws.
Yet today, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay dumped the idea.
He told Sky News: “The one thing everyone would agree on is involving Her Majesty in any of the issues around Brexit is not the way forward so I don’t see that as a realistic option.”
5. And Theresa May only has a ‘slim chance’ of getting her deal through anyway
Theresa May’s Brexit deal only has a “slim chance” of being approved at the third attempt anyway, a minister admitted last night.
Brexit minister Kwasi Kwarteng endured a difficult session in the Commons as both Remain and Leave MPs pushed him to outline the process to extend Article 50 and explain the purpose of seeking an extension longer than a few months.
At one stage he insisted the UK would leave with no-deal on March 29 if an extension to Article 50 was refused, having earlier said MPs had taken no-deal off the table.
“In a spirit of optimism I still believe there is a chance, it maybe a slim chance, that the meaningful vote will go through,” he said.
“People can scoff and laugh but I still believe that.”
A hard core of Tory Brexiteers have already made clear they still wouldn’t back the deal. That leaves Mrs May having to win over Labour MPs with leave seats.
Three of those MPs – Caroline Flint, Emma Lewell-Buck and Ruth Smeeth – were briefed on Brexit technicalities by the Tory Chief Whip Julian Smith in a private meeting last night
Source: Mirror online