John Bercow is enjoying hogging the headlines once again after his extraordinary statement yesterday throwing Brexit into significantly more turmoil by blocking a third meaningful vote. Bercow claims to be following precedent which stretches back to 1604. It’s funny because normally he’s more interested in tearing up precedent and riding roughshod over the solemn responsibilities of his office than following them. Guido takes you through some of his greatest hits:
- 6th February 2017: Dispensed with neutrality and attempted to bar the US President from addressing Parliament, without consulting the Lords Speaker, despite hosting numerous representatives of authoritarian regimes himself.
- 6th February 2017: Scrapped wigs for clerks
- 29th June 2017: Overruled convention on MPs’ ties
- 12th March 2018: Chaired debate on his own bullying despite his requirement for neutrality.
- 2nd May 2018: Used his position in an unfit way to call his patsy Julian Lewis to lavish praise on him
- 16th May 2018: Conspired with the Opposition to come up with arcane Parliamentary procedures to frustrate Brexit.
- 17th May 2018: Granted excessive numbers of SO24 debates, allowing Labour to bombard the Government to gain partisan support.
- 11th June 2018: Preferential treatment of one specific MP – Keith Vaz. Granted one of the most pointless urgent questions to Vaz over foreign military attack on third country while generally allowing Vaz more questions than any other MP.
- 13th June 2018: Bullied Claire Perry
- 6th November 2018: Stitched up Parliament’s bullying enquiry by ruling out taking action in individual cases to protect himself
- 7th November 2018: Misused his personal veto in order to block investigation into Keith Vaz
- 22nd November 2018: Bullied Andrea Leadsom out of the chamber
- 18th May 2018: Uses his position to reject standards probe into him calling Andrea Leadsom a stupid woman in the chamber.
- 9th January 2019: Overruled clerks’ advice to select the Grieve amendment in order to delay Brexit
- 14th March 2019: Refused to select the cross-party amendment B despite it having cross party support of 127 MPs, more than every other selected amendment put together.
- Ongoing: Refuses to honour his election to speaker pledge which notes he would serve for no more than 9 years in total.
Brexiteer MPs who have somehow got the idea that Bercow is trying to help them out in their quest to secure no deal are gravely mistaken. Bercow explicitly advised Remainer MPs how to continue their anti-Brexit machinations, telling them to table SO24 emergency debates which he will grant and then allow them to table amendments to, entirely breaching precedent again. Of course he will allow Benn, Cooper, Boles and Letwin to table their coup amendments as many times as they like to take over Parliamentary business, despite them having already been defeated twice. Breaching Parliamentary precedent once again…
It increasingly looks like the Government will simply table a Meaningful Vote motion anyway and dare Bercow to rule it out of order, or use a secondary motion of some sort to bypass his block. Former Commons Clerk Evan Paul Silk reckons it “should not be difficult for the Government to produce a motion that complies with it.” Steve Barclay said as much this morning. Guido takes no pleasure in seeing that his warning last year that Bercow will do everything he can to block Brexit is coming true…