House of Commons Speaker John Bercow insists Parliament cannot be shut down or left out of any pertinent decisions related to Brexit. While at Edin
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow insists Parliament cannot be shut down or left out of any pertinent decisions related to Brexit. While at Edinburgh Fringe Festival John Bercow said he will fight any attempts from Boris Johnson to push through a no deal exit “with every breath”. He added: “Nobody is going to get away as far as I am concerned.”
It seems as though Mr Bercow plans on personally intervening if Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted to force through a no deal Brexit by proroguing Parliament.
The Speaker claimed the Commons could prevent Britain leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement on October 31.
He added: “The one thing I feel strongly about is that the House of Commons must have its way.
“And if there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – god forbid – to close down parliament that is anathema to me and I will fight it with every bone in my body to stop that happening.
“We cannot have a situation in which parliament is shut down – we are a democratic society and parliament will be heard and nobody is going to get away as far as I am concerned with stopping that happening.”
Brexit news: How could ‘bloody minded’ John Bercow cause a ‘messy and embarrassing’ scene?
According to The Telegraph, when asked by an audience member if Parliament could still stop a no-deal Brexit, Mr Bercow reportedly replied unequivocally: “Yes.”
However, it seems he might not be right. Political expert Eliot Wilson reveals his thoughts about what John Bercow would do to try to intervene and stop Mr Johnson.
He said: “I can’t see an obvious way that he could do it.
“Proroguing parliament is one of the few things that remains one of the Crown’s prerogative powers and so it is exercised entirely by the government on behalf of the Queen, who declare that parliament is prorogued and therefore it is not really an optional scenario.
“It is not a case of asking parliament ‘do you want to be prorogued?’ It is a message from Her Majesty which commands it.”
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Brexit news: John Bercow said that he would fight with his ‘every breath’ to stop Boris Johnson
Mr Wilson revealed that practically speaking, the Speaker would have no authority to prevent Parliament from being perogued.
But he did warn Mr Bercow could – and would – “make a scene”.
He said: “ The Speaker, if he was bloody minded, and he is, could make a scene and could refuse to go along with some of the ceremonial aspects of it, thereby making a story out of that.
“Traditionally the Speaker and MPs walk up to the House of Lords to hear it, but John Bercow could refuse to do that and sit in his chair and make it a media event, but it would by no means stop it being effective.
“If John Bercow did make a scene, it would not stop proroguing parliament, but it would make a very powerful point because it would be featured on the news and be well-publicised.
“It would be messy and embarrassing for the government, but ultimately the government would eventually get over.
“It would not have any effect on the actual process of parliament being prorogued and instead would create awkwardness with people not turning up when they are supposed to and Black Rod being ignored.
“It would be socially awkward if you like but it would not actually make any difference.”
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Brexit news: Mr Wilson said Mr Bercow could potentially choose to ‘make a scene’
While the idea of Mr Johnson proroguing parliament has sparked ferocious backlash and anger from other politicians, particularly the opposition, Mr Bercow’s actions have been deemed by some as outside of his remit.
The main responsibility of the Speaker is to chair debates in the Commons chamber: keeping order and calling on MPs to speak and to remain politically impartial at all times.
However, Mr Wilson said that Mr Bercow’s stance on this topic shows inconsistency and is outside of his role.
Brexit news: Mr Wilson said John Bercow’s public comments on this issues shows inconsistency
He said: “It is not entirely inconsistent as you can perfectly well argue that the Speaker is the representative and the champion of the House and therefore he does have a certain job in defending the House’s rights and privileges.
“However, I think Bercow has sailed dangerously close to expressing a view more or less than Brexit should not happen and he is dead set against it.
“I think his opinions on Brexit have informed all of the procedural decisions he has taken since the beginning of the year, such as when that amendment in the name of Dominic Grieve was read and interpreted in a certain way which was against official advice.
“I think there is a recognition or at least an acceptance that Bercow is anti-Brexit and I believe he is coming dangerously close to nailing his colours to a political mast – which is fundamentally different from previous Speakers and I would argue is somewhat inappropriate for his role.”
Brexit news: Mr Wilson said John Bercow ‘likes being centre of attention’
The House of Commons clerk of 11 years believes Mr Bercow’s motivations for saying he would intervene were partially because of his role as the representative of the House of Commons.
But he added his stance may also be because of his “attention-seeking” personality.
Mr Wilson said: “There are two explanations for his behaviour and him saying this.
“There is the charitable explanation which is that he sees himself as the representative of the House and its rights, and as its representative he thinks in democratic terms that the house should be consulted and therefore he has said that out loud.
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“The less charitable view which I tend to believe is more accurate and is based on the fact that I know John Bercow a little bit, and I don’t especially like him, is that he likes being centre of attention and he likes being the story.
“I actually think both of those explanations are true to a degree.
“Bercow likes being centre of attention and he likes the story of him as the House representative.
“He sees himself as democracy personified. But fundamentally if he gets the option to be featured in the papers and go on television then he will take it. It is just his character.”