John Bercow vows to stay on as Speaker
Controversial Speaker says it’s ‘for the birds’ to believe no-deal Brexit can be forced though
John Bercow says he plans to stay in his post as Speaker of the House of Commons despite previous expectations he was about to leave.
Bercow told The Guardian it was not “sensible to vacate the chair” while there were major issues before the Commons.
Speaking at an event in the US, he also warned Tory leadership hopefuls not to try to force a no-deal Brexit without the permission of MPs.
Bercow has become a “pivotal” figure in Brexit debates, the BBC says. His remarks “will be read as a rebuke to the favourites to succeed Theresa May, including Boris Johnson,” The Guardian says, though his assertions “were quickly rejected” by supporters of a no-deal, The Times reports.
It has been widely believed that Bercow would quit his post in July, when he will have had 10 years in the post but he denied this. “I’ve never said anything about going in July of this year,” he said. “Secondly, I do feel that now is a time in which momentous events are taking place and there are great issues to be resolved and in those circumstances, it doesn’t seem to me sensible to vacate the chair.”
Earlier, in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, he said it was “for the birds” to believe that the Commons could be excluded from the debate over Brexit.
He said: “The idea that parliament is going to… be evacuated from the centre-stage of the debate on Brexit is unimaginable. It is simply unimaginable.”
Britain is scheduled to leave the EU on 31 October unless the government and Brussels agree another extension to the Article 50 process.
Both Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab have pledged to take Britain out of the EU by 31 October with or without a deal if they become prime minister. The Independent says that Bercow’s comments therefore “set up a constitutional clash with potential future prime ministers”.
However, Iain Duncan Smith, a former Tory leader and a supporter of a no-deal Brexit, rejected Bercow’s warning. He told the Huffington Post: “European law is very clear that we leave on a set date unless a request for an extension is made and the EU grants that extension.
He added: “That’s it. So parliament only gets its say in terms of legislation, it can’t take over the government at any stage, it can’t run the legislative programme.”