Statement from Speaker of the House of Commons

21 October 2019

The House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, has stated that he will not allow a vote on the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 Motion today due to the same-question convention.

On Saturday 19 October, the House passed the Government's new Brexit deal (the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018) on the nod (without a vote). This was because MPs had first voted in favour of the Letwin Amendment by 322 to 306. This amendment stated that the House "withholds approval [of the Government's Brexit deal] unless and until implementing legislation is passed". This forced the Government to seek an extension from the European Union and essentially nullified the meaningful vote.

After the votes happened, the Leader of House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, announced in point of order that the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 Motion would be returning on Monday.

"Today's Motion is in substance the same as Saturday's motion"

However, in a statement made earlier today Speaker Bercow said that he will not allow the Motion to be debated today, as "the House has decided the matter". He stated that the Motion is, in essence, the same that MPs decided on Saturday.

The 'same question convention' detailed in Erskine May states that the same Motion cannot be brought forward twice in the same session. To be allowed, returning Motions must be either different in content or the circumstances surrounding them must have changed.

The Speaker explained his decision:

"Today's Motion is in substance the same as Saturday's motion. Today's circumstances are in substance the same as Saturday's circumstances. My ruling is therefore that the Motion will not be debated today and it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so. For the benefit of colleagues not closely familiar with the so-called 'same question convention', which is very strong and dates back to 1604, I will summarise the rationale for it in a sentence: it is a necessary rule to ensure the sensible use of the House's time and proper respect for the decisions that it takes."

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