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19 Mar, 2019 14:22

Merkel ‘not aware of 17th century rules’ stopping new Brexit vote as Germany begs ‘please, deliver’

Merkel ‘not aware of 17th century rules’ stopping new Brexit vote as Germany begs ‘please, deliver’

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is having a hard time keeping up with news on Brexit, joking that the process is hard to follow, especially if you’re not clued in on British parliamentary procedure rules “from the 17th century.”

Merkel was referring to House of Commons Speaker John Bercow’s citation of the Erskine May Parliamentary Practice handbook to announce that he would block a third vote on May’s Brexit deal, throwing her latest exit strategy into disarray. The rulebook states that the same motion “in substance... may not be brought forward again during that same session.”

“I’ll concede that I wasn’t actively aware of the British Parliament’s rules of procedure from the 17th century,” Merkel said in Berlin on Tuesday, adding that she “took note” of the development “with interest.”

Merkel also said she and other European Union leaders would “try to react” to whatever British Prime Minister Theresa May proposes at an EU summit later this week, but said it was difficult to know what that might be, because the situation is changing all the time and “too much is in flux.”

However, Merkel’s light comments on the subject mask a deeper frustration being felt within the EU and Germany over the ever-changing Brexit situation.

Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth was more forthright in his scolding of London, warning British MPs on Tuesday that the EU’s patience was being “sorely tested at the moment” and urging them to “at last” come up with “concrete proposals” about why they wanted an extension from Brussels.

Roth said Germany’s main aim is to avoid a disorderly Brexit, but said Berlin could only agree to an extension past the current March 29 leave date if there were clear and concrete reasons to do so. “Dear friends in London, please deliver. The clock is ticking,” he said.

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With no new deal in place and deadlock in the House of Commons, May is considering her next move in the never-ending Brexit saga. Reports have suggested that Brussels could be willing to offer her a helping hand by agreeing on a delayed Brexit date, which might convince Bercow that the deal had changed enough to allow a new vote and get around the rulebook.

The EU is also expected to offer May either a three- or nine-month extension to Brexit if she can get her deal through parliament next week. In the case of a nine-month extension, the UK would have to take part in EU parliamentary elections in May.

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