Mark Pritchard questions the Speaker on his decision that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be brought back before Parliament without changes

18th March 2019

Following the Speaker’s decision that the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be brought back before Parliament again without substantial changes, Mark Pritchard seeks clarification from the Speaker that a third meaningful vote has not been ruled out unconditionally.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Will you clarify a point? Is it the case that you have not ruled out a third meaningful vote, and it is just a matter of that vote’s being conditional on other matters applying, in the motion as well as in the substance?

I think that I explained the position to the right hon. Member for Maldon (Mr Whittingdale). It depends on the specific terms of what is proposed. Forgive me—I do not mean this discourteously in any way—but I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was here throughout our exchanges. Maybe he was; I do not know. What I was seeking to convey, however, was that a new proposition could be put, but the convention would militate against the same, or substantially the same, proposition being put. So I am not closing the door, and, indeed, I specifically said towards the end of my statement that this ruling should not be regarded as my last word on the subject. It is simply meant to indicate the test that the Government must meet for me to rule that a third meaningful vote can legitimately be held during the current parliamentary Session. I do not see that I can expand on that, nor should I be required today to do so.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] I think that the Speaker decides. Would your advice to those who are, perhaps, becoming exercised about this be, “Don’t panic.”?

I am always inclined to say, “Don’t panic.” I am not in the business of panicking myself. I think I can safely say that I have never lost a wink of sleep over any work-related matter. There is no merit or purpose in doing so. I think that we should approach these matters with calm, deploy reason, and seek to make sensible judgments, not just in our own interests and the interests of the House, but in the interests of the people whom we are sent here to represent. I have always done that, and I am sure that that is what colleagues think it is right to do, including, most certainly, the hon. Gentleman.

I am most grateful to colleagues for the interest that they have shown and the inquiries that they have put, and I thank them for their involvement.