The odds of Brexit happening as scheduled on March 29 became even slimmer Monday when Parliament's "referee" got involved. John Bercow, the nonpartisan speaker of the House of Commons, dashed Prime Minister Theresa May's hopes of submitting her European Union exit plan for a third vote this week by ruling that she can't bring it back without "substantial" changes. May's government appeared blindsided by the ruling, the Washington Post reports. "The speaker did not forewarn us of the content of his statement or the fact that he was making one," the prime minister's spokeswoman told reporters.
In his statement Monday, Bercow cited a rule dating from 1604 which states that a defeated motion can't be brought back in the same form for another vote during a parliamentary session, the BBC reports. Lawmakers have suggested looking for a way around the ruling—possibly by ignoring the 1604 rule—or by ending the current session of Parliament early in a process called prorogation. Solicitor General Robert Buckland said Monday that the country is now in a "major constitutional crisis," Reuters reports. The Guardian reports that the ruling means May is likely to have to request a long extension to the Brexit process when she heads to Brussels for a summit Thursday. (In a nonbinding vote last week, the House of Commons approved asking for a Brexit delay.)