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UK speaker blocks May's plan for new vote on same Brexit deal

The U.K. House of Commons cannot vote again on Prime Minister Theresa May's deal for separation from the EU, Speaker John Bercow said in a statement to Parliament, blocking May's plan to hold a third vote on her deal two days before its deadline.

"What the government cannot legitimately do is to resubmit to the House the same proposition, or substantially the same proposition, as that of last week, which was rejected by 149 votes," Bercow said. The House of Commons voted down the Brexit deal 391-242 on March 12 and by 230 votes in January.

"This ruling should not be regarded as my last word on the subject. It is simply meant to indicate the test which the government must meet in order for me to rule that a third meaningful vote can be legitimately held in this parliamentary session," Bercow added.

A spokesman for May's office said May acknowledged Bercow's ruling, which "requires proper consideration," Reuters reported.

May's withdrawal agreement was expected to get another chance to be approved by lawmakers after they backed a government proposal postponing the March 29 Brexit date until June 30 as long as a Brexit deal can be passed by March 20.

May has warned lawmakers that if her deal is thrown out again, a much longer delay to Brexit would be needed.

Parliament also ruled out a no-deal Brexit in a separate vote March 13, although it remains the default path forward if a deal cannot be agreed to and an extension is not granted by the EU.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, has said the current Brexit deal is the only one available and that the risk of a no-deal Brexit has never been higher.

Sterling was down against the U.S. dollar March 18 and stayed negative following Bercow's announcement. It was trading at $1.3232, down 0.4%, just after 5 p.m. London time.