In Brief

Ex-speaker John Bercow breaks Brexit silence

The former Commons boss told foreign media that Britain is better off in EU

John Bercow has broken his silence on Brexit just days after stepping down as speaker of the House of Commons, describing the decision to withdraw from the EU as Britain’s “biggest mistake” since the Second World War.

As The Guardian notes, Bercow was “persistently accused of bias by Brexit-backing MPs” while in the speaker’s chair, and yesterday outed himself as a Remainer in a speech in London to the Foreign Press Association.

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Bercow said: “My own personal opinion is that Brexit does not help us. We are part of a world of power blocs and trade blocs, my feeling is that it is better to be part of that power block and of that trade bloc than not.

“I completely respect the rights of the prime minister, leading the largest party in Parliament, to try to get support for his position, which is to get Brexit done.”

However, Bercow rejected claims that he deliberately blocked Brexit during his reign as speaker, which ended last Thursday. Critics had suggested that Bercow was “bending the rules” to allow MPs to reduce the Government’s powers over the withdrawal process, The Guardian says.

During Bercow’s final year, he was “accused of ignoring advice from the impartial House of Commons clerks by selecting motions that effectively robbed the Government of its right to decide the business of the House”, adds The Telegraph.

But the former Tory MP told press this week that “it was Parliament” that had prevented Britain from leaving before now, “not me”.

He predicted “with total certainty” that Parliament would be debating Brexit for at least the next five years, insisting that was “blindingly obvious”, reports the BBC.

Brexit supporters have condemned the ex-speaker for his comments, with Brexit Party MEP Rupert Lowe saying it was “disgraceful” that someone with Bercow’s views had been allowed to hold the role.

Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney told LBC that Bercow “is the biggest mistake in the history of the speaker’s chair”, adding that his comments show the “unbridled contempt he has for Brexiteers”.

Meanwhile, pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain tweeted its support for Bercow, saying: “John Bercow is fully entitled to express whatever views he likes about Brexit. He never stopped Parliament from voting in any direction at all on the matter.

“We are simply fortunate that enough MPs wanted to stop medicine shortages and we had a speaker prepared to let them.”

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