Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2019

Bercow’s ominous warning to Boris: MPs’ Brexit sabotage just ‘a prelude’ to further chaos | Politics | News

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Brexit news: John Bercow has issued an ominous warning to Boris Johnson (Image: PA)

The Prime Minister has suffered a disastrous month so far, suffering three crushing defeats in the House of Commons and leaving his Brexit strategy in tatters. Rebel MPs had taken control of the Brexit process, voting in favour of a Bill designed to block a no deal Brexit. This passed through the House of Lords and was soon made law, and now forces Mr Johnson to return to the European Union on October 19 – if a deal has not passed through Parliament before then – to ask for a further extension until January 31, 2020.

john bercow speech

Brexit news: The outgoing House of Commons Speaker warned MPs would dictate what happens with Brexit (Image: PA)

The Prime Minister has also twice tabled a motion for an early general election to take place before the October 31 date of Brexit. 

But both times he was a long way short of the two-thirds majority of 434 needed to trigger that, with hundreds of opposition MPs abstaining from the vote. 

They have instead vowed to focus on ensuring Britain does not leave the EU without an agreement in place.

Speaking at the sixth annual Bingham Centre Lecture in London, Mr Bercow warned the scenes in Parliament over recent weeks are just a “mere prelude for yet more drama”.

The outgoing Speaker of the House of Commons also warned it will be MPs – not the Government – who will dictate what happens with Brexit. 

He said: “The only form of Brexit which we will have – whenever that might be – will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.”

Mr Bercow also paved the way for MPs to take control of the order paper again – if a Commons majority wanted them to.

He said: “I do not think that parliamentarians will now want to abandon the SO24 (emergency debate) facility once Brexit has been concluded.”

The outgoing Speaker urged his successor – tipped to be his deputy Sir Lindsay Hoyle – to continue granting MPs vast amounts of Urgent Questions as he has, adding it would be “strange and regrettable” if they didn’t.

Mr Bercow also revealed his “biggest single regret as Speaker” as he prepares to leave the role after more than 10 years. 

He told the audience: “That the Backbench Business Committee has not been supplemented as it should have been and was scheduled to be by a separate House Business Committee.”

Mr Bercow was speaking just days after he dramatically announced to a packed House of Commons he would be stepping down as Speaker after 10 years in the seat.

He will leave the position at the close of business on October 31 – the same day Britain is due to leave the European Union – after MPs refused to back Mr Johnson’s motion for an early general election.

The outgoing Speaker also said he would not be contesting his seat in his home constituency of Buckinghamshire in an upcoming poll of the British people.

In an emotional speech, with his wife Sally Bercow watching on from the gallery, he said: “At the 2017 election, I promised my wife and children that it would be my last.

“This is a pledge that I intend to keep. If the House votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this Parliament ends.

“If the House does not so vote, I have concluded that the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business on Thursday, October 31.”

He continued: “Least disruptive because that date will fall shortly after the votes on the Queen’s Speech expected on October 21 and 22.

“The week or so after that may be quite lively and it would be best to have an experienced figure in the chair for that short period.

“Most democratic because it will mean that a ballot is held when all members have some knowledge of the candidates.

“This is far preferable to a contest at the beginning of a parliament when new MPs will not be similarly informed and may find themselves vulnerable to undue institutional influence.”

Mr Bercow added: “I could not serve this House without a small but superb team in the Speaker’s House, my wife Sally and my three children Oliver, Freddie and Jemima.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank them all profusely.”

This is a breaking story. More to follow. 

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