Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has signalled that ministers will continue to press on with Theresa May’s Brexit deal despite the Commons Speaker’s bombshell intervention.
John Bercow provoked uproar at Westminster on Monday when he ruled that the Government could not bring the Prime Minister’s deal back for a third “meaningful vote” unless there were substantial changes.
Mr Barclay said that, while the Cabinet would give “serious consideration” to his ruling, Mrs May’s plan remained “the only deal on the table”.
“What we need to do is secure the deal,” he told Sky News.
“This is the only deal on the table. The EU is clear it is the only deal on the table. Business need the certainty of this deal and it is time that Parliament comes together and gets behind it.”
Mr Barclay acknowledged that the ruling made it “more unlikely” that there would be an attempt to get the deal through the Commons before Mrs May attends the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday.
However, he said the Speaker had made clear in earlier rulings that the Commons should not necessarily be bound by precedent.
“What the Speaker has said in his ruling is there needs to be something that is different. You can have the same motion but where the circumstances have changed,” he said.
“So we need to look at the details of the ruling, we need to consider that in the terms of earlier rulings that don’t particularly align with yesterday’s.
“The fact a number of Members of Parliament have said that they will change their votes points to the fact that there are things that are different.”
Mr Barclay rejected suggestions that ministers could seek a prorogation of Parliament from the Queen in order to get round the ruling.
“I think the one thing everyone would agree on is involving Her Majesty in any of the issues around Brexit is not the way forward so I don’t see that as a realistic option,” he said.
He accepted that there would now have to be a “short extension” to the Article 50 withdrawal process as the Government would not be able to get through all the legislation it needed in time for March 29 when the UK is due to leave.
“We are now in a situation where we do need to have an extension to pass the legislation for the Withdrawal Bill,” he said.
The Speaker’s ruling was welcomed by some Tory Brexiteers opposed to Mrs May’s deal, who argued that it increased the chances of a no-deal break, but Mr Barclay warned their optimism was misplaced.
“I think that is clutching at straws because the House has already ruled to take no-deal off the table,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
His warning echoed a Government source, who said it seemed clear that the Speaker’s motive was to rule out a meaningful vote this week which could have led to a shorter extension.
“(This) leads you to believe what he really wants is a longer extension, where Parliament will take over the process and force a softer form of Brexit,” the source said.
“But anyone who thinks that this makes no-deal more likely is mistaken – the Speaker wouldn’t have done it if it did.”
Mr Bercow faced awkward questioning from the media as he made his way to the Commons on Tuesday.
The Speaker refused to be drawn when he was asked a series of questions regarding his controversial ruling as he walked towards the Palace of Westminster.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will meet leaders of the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and Green Party to discuss Brexit.
In a joint statement ahead of the talks, Ian Blackford, Sir Vince Cable, Liz Saville Roberts and Caroline Lucas said: “The UK faces an unprecedented crisis with Brexit, and Westminster remains deeply divided.
“The best and most democratic way forward is to put the decision back to the people in a new vote – with the option to Remain on the ballot paper.”
Mr Corbyn will also meet members of the “Norway Plus” group of MPs for separate talks on Tuesday.
Meanwhile in Dublin, European Council president Donald Tusk will hold talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar.