Boom! After a humdrum, almost completely unrevealing Prime Minister’s Questions, the Commons erupted over Speaker John Bercow’s decision to allow an attempt to change the rules for the resumed “meaningful vote” debate.
This is no mere technicality. The amendment proposed by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve would require the government to come back within three days, rather than 21, to debate the implications of not having a Brexit deal – if the prime minister’s deal is indeed voted down next Tuesday.
Under the previous rules, that debate would be kicked back to late February, with the Brexit clock ticking remorselessly in the background.
The new Grieve amendment, now passed by MPs, means that in the event the PM loses next week, the Commons will then have a chance to vote on alternative policies – everything from a “managed no-deal” to a further referendum, via a “Norway option” or a reheated version of the current deal, could be on the table.
If a majority could be found for anything, it would not have the force of law – but it would at least indicate a policy which had the support of MPs.
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This is, in short, a massive ruling by the Speaker, made, apparently, against the advice of the Commons Clerk, Sir David Natzler.