Greg Hands blasted John Bercow after the Speaker of the House announced he would allow Parliament to cast a vote on forming a new customs union as part of a series of Brexit indicative votes. Mr Hands questioned the decision to bring back the option despite MPs having rejected the plan last week as he pointed out the Speaker had rejected demands from Theresa May to have her proposed Brexit deal brought back to the chamber for a third time before March 29. Addressing Mr Bercow after announcing the motions for the indicative vote, Mr Hands said: “Perhaps you could clarify why it is that we’ve just selected a motion for debate, in this case letter C in the name of my Right Honourable Friends, the member for Rashly, when exactly the same motion with exactly the same words was debated and rejected by this House only three sitting days ago.
“Perhaps you could explain for the benefit of those watching why it is that this can be brought back three days later but the 585-page withdrawal agreement cannot?”
Motion C would grant the British Government a mandate to negotiate with the European Union the creation of a new customs union to maintain trade relations without major disruption after Brexit. The option was put forward by Conservative MP Ken Clarke.
Mr Bercow however insisted his decision was justified as he responded to the claim: of double standards: “The short answer is that the House agreed to the process which has unfolded and therefore it is entirely procedurally proper for the judgment I have made to be made.
“That is the judgment that I have made. The Right Honourable Gentleman will have noted the view that was expressed in the debates last week.”
Mr Bercow added: “And let me say, in terms that are very clear, the Right Honourable Gentleman may not approve of them, but the purpose of this discreet exercise is to try to identify whether there is a potential consensus among members for an approach to departure from and future relationship with the European Union.”
Option put to the vote tonight also include the creation of a Common Market 2.0, a very soft form of Brexit proposed by Conservative Nick Boles and supported by the SNP. The plan would see Britain remain closely aligned to Brussels through membership of the single market.
A cross-bench proposal for a public vote on the final agreement to avoid a no deal scenario was also put forward by Labour MP Graham Jones and former Tory Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
As MPs prepare to vote, a Government source claimed Theresa May is unlikely to hold a fourth meaningful vote on her proposed divorce deal after seeing her plan rejected three times in as many months.
Richard Drax, a Conservative MP who last week switched from his strong Brexit stance to support the Prime Minister’s deal, announced he would once again switch against Mrs May.
Mr Drax told the Commons: “I personally feel utterly ashamed of myself for betraying everything I believed in – that this deal was a rotten deal.
“But for the sake of the party and the country and for all the reasons – I sat and listened to that debate all afternoon – I had to swallow everything I believe in and vote for it.”
The South Dorset MP also told the Commons he “don’t feel like I’ve misled the House but do not feel I’ve been true to myself”.
He added he “quickly realised that I should not have voted with the government on Friday afternoon” but he did because “it seemed to be either the prime minister’s deal or a long delay”.
Published at Mon, 01 Apr 2019 16:25:00 +0000