Brexit Delayed Indefinitely By Procedural Move In British House Of Commons

It may be a long time before the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union is finalized.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is now seeking a long extension of the United Kingdom’s European Union membership after the British House of Commons torpedoed her plan to win Parliamentary approval for her deal to leave the trading bloc, known as "Brexit."

Officials privately accused House of Commons Speaker John Bercow of overreaching his powers to help pro-European Union politicians deliver a softer divorce after he scuttled another vote on whether to leave the bloc on May 29 with or without a deal in place.

Prime Minister May was given no warning of Speaker Bercow’s announcement Monday afternoon, in which he banned her from bringing another proposal back to Parliament for a third time unless it changes significantly. May’s office issued a statement saying the move in the House of Commons "requires proper consideration," but the anger among government officials was palpable.

Bercow also set a new test for the Prime Minister to meet if she wants to ask Parliament to vote again on an agreement she spent two years negotiating with European Union officials. The deal must be "fundamentally different," said Bercow, and that means something new must be agreed with the bloc.

The problem is that negotiations have finished, and time has almost run out before the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on March 29. The British pound fell as Bercow spoke Monday, before paring some of its losses.

May had been working to put a proposed deal back to the Commons for approval by Wednesday of this week, with a vote penciled in for Tuesday in the House of Commons. Bercow’s ruling now cuts the Prime Minister’s chances of getting a deal approved ahead of March 29.

May is heading to Brussels for the European summit on Thursday of this week and seems likely to have to ask European Union leaders to give her an extension beyond the March 29 deadline. Such an extension could potentially last months, or even years, say political observers.