Why Brexiters Do not Like John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons

The Commons chairman refused to debate and vote on the motion calling for a vote in principle on the divorce agreement on Monday because "it would be repetitive and messy".

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John Bercow, the "Speaker" of the House of Commons, October 21.
John Bercow, the "Speaker" of the House of Commons, October 21. JESSICA TAYLOR / AFP

Haro on the Bercow! After the "supersaturday" missed Monday, October 21 could have been the moment of a decisive vote on the agreement reached between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Europeans five days earlier. Las: John Bercow, the "Speaker" of the House of Commons, decided otherwise, frustrating a little more the government still determined to achieve Brexit October 31.

The speaker's "no" was not really a surprise: political commentators had been announcing it since yesterday. But conservative MPs, upset on Saturday by a surprise amendment that forced the head of government to demand a postponement of Brexit in Brussels – and to postpone its vote in principle on its agreement – have increased criticism against its alleged bias.

Read also Brexit: ending a bad soap opera

3:30 pm, Monday In Westminster, it has been an hour since the House debates defense issues. This is certainly an important subject, but the House of Commons is half empty and the media are watching with one eye: everyone is waiting for John Bercow's "statement" about the vote coveted by Boris Johnson.

" I thought about (…) there are two subjects, one of substance, another of the circumstances ", begins John Bercow, taking all his time. Tie still colorful (scrabble pattern, this time), assured voice, he explains. "It is clear that the motion (from the government, calling for a vote in principle on the divorce agreement) is essentially the same " than that of Saturday.

Race against time

Circumstances ? "These are the same ones too (…). The motion will not be debated (and voted) today because it would be repetitive and messy ", adds the speaker.

Mr. Bercow has the rules for him: he recalls that his decision is consistent with a convention dating back to the XVIIe century (1604, precisely), inscribed in the Erskine May, the bible of uses at Westminster. "An identical motion or amendment, essentially to a question already decided during an assignment (parliamentary), should not be reproposed during the same transfer. " He had decided the same way on March 18, when he refused a third vote in principle to former Prime Minister Theresa May on her withdrawal agreement, on the grounds that it was exactly the same text as the second vote.


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