U.K. Parliament speaker to step down

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow Will Step Down Amid Brexit Chaos

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow Will Step Down Amid Brexit Chaos

If, as expected, lawmakers reject the government's attempt to call an election, he said he would quit on October 31 - the day Britain is now due to leave the EU.

Also in the mix to replace Bercow as Speaker is veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman, a QC and former minister who has chaired the Joint Committee on Human Rights since 2017.

Mr Bercow has been given short odds to head to the jungle for I'm A Celebrity following his announcement. This is a pledge that I intend to keep'.

Bercow's retirement will take effect either on Monday night if the current session of Parliament is ended without a successful vote to hold a snap general election, or, in the case of a snap election, on October 31, after the debates surrounding the new Parliament's legislative agenda.

"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, Oct. 31".

Mr Bercow, who has been the Speaker since 2009 and MP for Buckingham since 1997, has attracted global attention as he presides over heated debates and motions relating to Brexit.

In recent months he came under fire for a series of controversial rulings in the chamber which were widely considered to favour Remain supporters.

In the speech announcing his plan to resign, Bercow fixed his gaze on the benches where ministers sit and delivered a direct warning to the government: "We degrade this parliament at our peril".

UK Parliament  Jessica Taylor
UK Parliament Jessica Taylor

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised Mr Bercow for being a "superb" Speaker, and said he had "totally changed the way in which the job has been done".

He has sought to modernise parliament, abandoning the speaker's traditional robes for a simple gown over a suit, and seeking to make it easier for female MPs with new babies.

"Throughout my time as speaker, I have sought to increase the relative authority of this legislature - for which I will make absolutely no apology to anyone, anywhere at any time", he said in the House.

Conservative MP Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) shouted at the Speaker and left the Chamber.

"Your commitment to your principles and to your constituents is unwavering and an example to others", Gove said.

He branded Prime Minister Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament, which runs from the end of Monday's debates until October 14, as a "constitutional outrage" created to "stop Parliament debating Brexit".

Parliament has now been officially suspended for five weeks until the 14 October.

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