Order, order. Honourable members ought to cease complaining concerning the speaker of the Home of Commons. Conservative MPs suppose he’s biased, both in favour of the Labour Occasion or towards leaving the EU, or each. They need to settle down and recognise that, no matter John Bercow’s private views, he’s decided to chair their proceedings impartially.
I say that pondering he ought to have retired final yr. Whereas he denies allegations that he personally bullied his employees, they usually haven’t been confirmed, he was criticised by Dame Laura Cox’s inquiry for failing to cope with the bullying and sexual harassment of different employees at Westminster. When he was elected speaker in 2009 he mentioned he would serve 9 years, so he ought to have gone final summer season with an appropriate expression of contrition.
Nor do I like the way in which he interrupts to inform MPs to be quiet, losing their time by telling them off for losing time. I do know many individuals say they disapprove of a boisterous Home of Commons, however it’s a nice power of our democracy that it’s noisy. If we would like the sterile tedium of the US Home of Representatives, then Bercow might strive chucking MPs out in the event that they make any noise in any respect and see if anybody actually likes it. As it’s, his pompous interventions are simply pointless.
I additionally suppose he has gone too far in permitting the Commons to carry the federal government to account. It was an vital democratic advance to extend the variety of occasions ministers are dropped at the Home to reply “pressing” questions, however I believe it’s a poor use of a main minister’s time to maintain her for 3 hours answering repetitive questions after each assertion she makes.
Moreover, there may be little doubt that the speaker’s private views have a tendency in direction of Labour – although he was initially elected as a Conservative MP – and towards Brexit. Earlier than he was elected speaker he was an fascinating politician who was on a protracted journey away from the ultra-Thatcherite politics of his youth, and it was speculated that he may defect to Labour.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply that Bercow is biased in the way in which he conducts parliamentary enterprise, or that he might or would use his affect to determine the way forward for the nation’s relationship with the EU.
There was a fuss final month when he overruled the recommendation of his clerks to permit Dominic Grieve, the anti-Brexit Tory insurgent, to suggest a vote to vary the Commons timetable. Usually, the timetable is managed by the federal government, and such a proposal could be dominated out of order. There was uproar, and MPs raised factors of order for an hour to protest.
However the vote went forward, and the Commons voted to require the prime minister to make an announcement inside three days if she have been defeated within the vote on the Brexit deal – as certainly she was. It was uncommon, however the cause the federal government controls the timetable is that it has a majority in the home. All Bercow did was to permit a distinct majority to specific itself. That’s how parliamentary democracy is meant to work.
The strain on the speaker is simply going to extend between now and 29 March, when the UK is meant to depart the EU. My view is that Brexit can be determined, at every stage, accurately, by a majority within the Home of Commons. If Bercow makes it doable for a majority to say itself, he’s doing his job.
I believe the bulk will vote for one thing like Yvette Cooper’s plan to take a no-deal Brexit off the desk. MPs voted towards it this week, however solely as a result of they have been persuaded to present the prime minister another likelihood to revise her deal, and that they’d have one other likelihood to rule out leaving with out a deal.
If the Commons votes for Cooper’s plan on the second or third try, it should then face a selection between a model of the prime minister’s deal or delaying Brexit. I believe the vast majority of MPs would vote for Theresa Could’s deal in that scenario, though I can’t make certain.
What I’m extra positive of is that, no matter the vast majority of the Home of Commons needed, Bercow would facilitate it, not attempt to cease it.