Opinion: John Bercow was the most biased Speaker ever

John Bercow was appointed Speaker in 2009

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Paul Staines, editor of political blog Guido Fawkes, responds to the resignation of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. These are his views and not talkRADIO's.

I knew John Bercow when he was a teenager and both of us were knocking around as teenage politicos.

He moved from the right to the left, and the very right on left, and he has, for the last few years, been the most biased Speaker ever.

When there was an element of opposition to previous Speakers, the Speaker immediately resigned as a matter of honour – he couldn’t command the support of the whole House so he had to go.

This Speaker has told the Labour benches that “I will block Brexit” - and they have kept him in place.

He will say he stood up for Parliament against the executive, and that was the proper role of Parliament, to stand up to the government. But I think history will say that he’s put Parliament against the people who voted in the referendum.

He has thwarted Brexit almost single-handedly by twisting procedures enabling MPs to take control of the order paper in Parliament, which determines how business is conducted.

It’s a bit procedural and a bit boring, but it effectively has allowed the minority to stop the majority.

The problem with the role of the Speaker is, for historical reasons, good reasons, he is the prince of Parliament, and he is basically unchecked.

He has the power almost to stand up to the monarch and historically, that has been the strength of it.

So, when you have a Speaker who is determined to throw away all convention and behave, in the proper sense of the word, dishonourably, it all falls apart.

I think he’s staying [until October 31] because if Boris Johnson misses that deadline it will make life more difficult for him when the inevitable election does come. 

If there is an election, I think it is possible that he could lose his seat and he doesn’t want to be the first Speaker to be dislodged like that.

He’s rigging it so that this current Parliament, which is a very remainy Parliament, will get to choose the Speaker.

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