Saturday, January 18, 2020

In the House of Commons, farewell to John Bercow's "Frank Sinatra"

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After ten years as a speaker, the conservative British MP has become a quasi-star. Not everyone will regret it in the House, especially on the Brexiters' side.

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This Thursday, October 31, in the UK, some have celebrated Halloween, others have welcomed the "Non-Brexit Day" on Twitter, with reference to this deadline of divorce with the European Union again failed. And still others in Wesminster said goodbye to the Speaker, the Speaker of the House of Commons. Because it was also the last day at the post of the thunderous John Bercow.

The day before, the 56-year-old Conservative MP received tribute from Boris Johnson, part of his government and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn during his last "question and answer to the Prime Minister". . "You say goodbye even longer than Frank Sinatra's", he nevertheless unhooked Mr. Johnson, a bit acidic with regard to a figure who, in recent weeks, will have contributed in his own way to the failure of his strategy of a Brexit "Do or die" for Halloween.

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It is true that after ten years at this expense, prestigious but exposed, the 157e speaker of the Commons has acquired a quasi-star rank. The power of his voice is obviously for many. These "Orderrrr" sound, these "Clear the lobby !! " have done a lot to interest the British public, but also other Europeans, in the mysteries of the oldest functioning Parliament in the world, and the Brexit circus. With his silver hair in firecracker, his black toga systematically crooked, his gaudy neckties, he hung the light like no other in this Hall of Commons with formal decorum.

Biting

But not only: Mr. Bercow had a bite, a way, sometimes brutal to put the deputies in their place, ministers like backbenchers (literally, "the elected of the benches of the bottom"), which largely contributed to its notoriety. Above all, he stood firm to maintain the prerogatives of Parliament when began the guerrilla war between May, then Johnson, and the deputies on the Brexit. At the price, sometimes, a rather creative reading of the uses in the Commons.

On 21 October, for example, he refuses Mr Johnson a vote in principle on his recent divorce agreement from Brussels. Hailed by conservative politicians, he recalls that his decision is consistent with a convention dating back to the beginning of the XVIIe century, inscribed in the Erskine May, the bible of Westminster uses. He had decided the same way in March, when he refused a third vote in principle to former Prime Minister Theresa May on its withdrawal agreement, on the grounds that it was exactly the same text as the second vote.

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