LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s attempts to force a Brexit plan through Parliament this week could be foiled by the outspoken House of Commons Speaker John Bercow on Monday.
With Johnson facing another crunch week in Britain’s ongoing Brexit saga, and after the prime minister hammered out a deal with the European Union, Bercow could refuse to allow the vote because rules generally bar considering the same measure for a second time during the same session of Parliament unless something has changed.
Bercow — who is known for his efforts to impose calm on the tumultuous chamber with bellows of “Order! Order!” — said on Saturday that he was blindsided by the government’s debate proposal.
Bercow is scheduled to make a statement shortly after Parliament opens at 2:30 p.m (9:30 a.m. ET).
Johnson, who has staked his political career on leaving the European Union on Oct. 31, had hoped his divorce plan would have been voted on in an extraordinary parliamentary session on Saturday. But, as with much to do with Brexit, the session did not go as planned.
Johnson was ambushed by rebel lawmakers who forced the government to ask Europe for another extension — something Johnson once vowed he’d rather be “dead in a ditch” than do.
Johnson sent a letter Saturday to Brussels asking for an extension but in a move that highlights the strained norms of British statecraft, he did not sign it and immediately sent a second saying he doesn’t really want an extension.
European officials haven’t yet given their answer to the request for more time to get the deal through Parliament. European leaders of the other 27 member states will be conflicted between their desire to put the Brexit issue to bed and a wish to avoid the U.K. crashing out of the E.U. without a deal at all. It is expected that they will agree to an extension.
Whatever happens the other side of the English channel, British government ministers have reaffirmed Johnson’s intention to leave the European Union on Oct. 31 come what may and said they believed they had the numbers to get the divorce deal through Parliament this week.
“We seem to have the numbers in the House of Commons, why hasn’t Parliament pushed this through? That’s what we’re going to do next week,” Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab told the BBC on Sunday.
Raab added that the government would continue to speak to the government’s Northern Irish allies, the Democratic Unionist Party, which currently opposes the deal because it treats Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the U.K.
The support of the DUP, which has 10 seats in Parliament, would give Johnson a better chance of passing his deal.
The new deal replaces an earlier divorce plan negotiated by former Prime Minister Theresa May that was rejected three times by Parliament. It comes as Britain’s opposition Labour party has called for a second referendum on whether Britain should even leave the European Union.
The tense start to the parliamentary week also comes as Scotland’s highest court is due to consider whether Johnson intentionally set out to block Parliament’s intent by not signing the first letter and sending a second, even if he technically complied with what was legally required of him, according to the Associated Press.