UK Speaker of the Commons John Bercow emotionally announced today that he would step down from his post by October 31, which is the Brexit deadline. He will step down immediately if parliament votes for an election tonight. From The Telegraph:

I would like to make a personal statement to the House. At the 2017 general election i [sic] promised my wife and children it would be my last. This is a pledge i [sic] intend to keep. If the house votes tonight for an early election my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this Parliament ends.

If the House does not vote I have decided the least destructive course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business, on Thursday, October 31.

Least disruptive because that day will fall shortly after the votes on the Queen’s Speech, expected on 21 and 22nd October. 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.

Bercow has served as speaker for the last ten years when he took over from the late Michael Martin.

If the new election occurs before October 31, then the new Parliament will elect Bercow’s successor. If it happens after that date, then the current Parliament will determine the new speaker.

The London Times wrote that Bercow’s decision comes as a way to push the Labour Party “to not agree to an early election before October 31.”

Conservatives no longer hold a majority in Parliament. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will probably want to take the route that will allow this Parliament to choose the next speaker.

Bercow has come under intense “criticism from Brexiteers who have questioned his impartiality.”

The London Times reported on Sunday the plans of Conservative Members of Parliament (MP) to challenge Bercow. The Conservatives plan to back a candidate who supports Brexit.

MP Andrea Leadsom, who also serves as Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, declared the Conservatives would “field a candidate to stand against the Speaker in a forthcoming general election.” From The London Times:

In an act of revenge by Downing Street Ms Leadsom said that her party had no choice but to contest John Bercow’s Buckingham seat for his role in the “flagrant abuse” of parliamentary process. Normally a sitting Speaker is not challenged by any of the main parties during an election. The move is particularly unusual because before being elected to the job Mr Bercow was a Conservative MP.

Ms Leadsom blamed Mr Bercow for allowing MPs to force through the extension bill last week against government policy, claiming that he was no longer impartial.

“The Speaker is in place to protect the constitution and oversee the behaviour of the House . . . but the Speaker failed us,” she wrote in the Mail on Sunday.

“The Speaker hasn’t just bent the rules, he has broken them. So it is right that the Conservatives will recognise this fact at the next general election by standing our candidate against him.”

Leadsom pointed out Bercow “allowing MPs to use Standing Order No 24, a procedure used to trigger emergency debates, as a means of taking over parliament’s timetable.” She insisted that the proposal to use the procedure “wasn’t appropriate for a motion.”

Leadsom cried out the decision came from the desire “to ram through legislation for purely political moves,” which could lead “to the creation of bad laws.” She also described it as a slap in the face to the people.

Bercow drew the ire of Conservatives last week when he took time out of his vacation “to claim the Government’s intention to prorogue Parliament was a ‘constitutional outrage.'”

The Telegraph then reported “Bercow had been collaborating with ant-Brexit MPs to thwart” plans to withdraw the UK from the EU no matter what kind of deal happens by the October 31 deadline.


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