Speaker Bercow ‘in open opposition to people who voted Leave’

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The Speaker of the House of Commons is a non-partisan role but MPs have levelled accusations of bias against John Bercow.

John Bercow

Speaker John Bercow is “in open opposition” to people who voted Leave in the Brexit referendum, a former deputy has claimed.

Natascha Engel, who served in the role until her defeat in the 2017 general election, said Mr Bercow should accept he cannot change his role from “impartial referee to partisan player-manager”.

The Speaker of the House of Commons is a non-partisan role but MPs have levelled accusations of bias against Mr Bercow after he allowed a vote on the so-called Grieve Amendment on a version of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and refused to hold a third meaningful vote on the deal in March.

Mr Bercow will play a pivotal role in the Brexit drama in Westminster this week as he has the authority to control debates and choose which MPs speak and which amendments can be debated.

He called the proposal to prorogue Parliament a “constitutional outrage” last week and Conservative rebel ringleader Sir Oliver Letwin said he had been in talks with the Speaker, adding he thought “there probably is time” to get a measure to block a no-deal Brexit through Parliament.

Ms Engel, a former Labour MP, wrote in the Mail on Sunday: “The Speaker is doing nothing less than changing the historic relationship between Parliament as the legislature and the Government as the executive in a fundamental way.

“If he succeeds, it won’t be the Prime Minister proroguing Parliament that will be remembered as a ‘constitutional outrage’, to quote Mr Bercow’s own words last week.”


She added that Mr Bercow’s reported willingness to extend Brexit beyond October 31 could have unintended consequences.

“He could lose everything and be blamed by both Leavers and Remainers for changing the rules on something that – for both sides – is really not a game,” she wrote.

Speaking about claims of impartiality in Italian newspaper La Repubblica in March, Mr Bercow said: “If I’m biased, I’m biased in favour of Parliament. Parliament being heard.

“Parliament having a right to speak. Parliament having time.

“Parliament being respected by the Government of the day and indeed by the opposition.”

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