Speaker John Bercow today dramatically announced he is quitting by October 31 amid a huge Tory backlash at his handling of Brexit.
Mr Bercow dropped the bombshell in a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, watched by wife Sally.
He said he would resign tonight in the unlikely event that MPs vote to hold an early election tonight.
To cheers and laughter from Labour MPs, he said otherwise the least disruptive would be for him to quit on October 31 – the current deadline for Brexit.
The move amounts to Mr Bercow jumping before he is pushed, as the Conservatives have declared they will break convention by running a candidate against him in Buckingham at the next election.
In a series of stinging shots at Boris Johnson, a tearful Mr Bercow said he made ‘no apology’ for being the ‘backbenchers’ backstop’ while in the chair – warning against ‘degrading’ Parliament.
‘At the 2017 election, I promised my wife and children that it would be my last,’ he told the House.
‘This is a pledge that I intend to keep. If the House votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this Parliament ends.
‘If the House does not so vote, I have concluded that the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business on Thursday, October 31.’
Mr Bercow said that meant that he could be in the chair for Queen’s Speech votes expected on October 21 and 22.
He added wryly: ‘The week or so after that may be quite lively and it would be best to have an experienced figure in the chair for that short period.’
Opposition MPs gave Mr Bercow a standing ovation after his announcement – but almost all Tories pointedly stayed in their seats.
John Bercow dropped the bombshell in a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, watched by wife Sally
The Speaker was given a standing ovation by the Opposition benches today – but most Tory MPs pointedly stayed in their seats
A tearful Mr Bercow said he made ‘no apology’ for being the ‘backbenchers’ backstop’ while in the chair
Jeremy Corbyn and Remainer MPs queued up to heap praise on the outgoing Speaker – who last week caused fury by bending Parliamentary procedure to help pass a law that effectively rules out No Deal.
He said: ‘In your role as Speaker you have totally changed the way in which the job has been done.’
Yesterday business secretary Andrea Leadsom said that, by allowing MPs to take over the Parliamentary timetable, the Speaker ‘hadn’t just bent the rules, he has broken them’.
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The Cabinet Minister – who clashed repeatedly with Mr Bercow when she was Commons Leader – described last Tuesday’s vote as ‘a flagrant abuse’, adding: ‘It is right that the Conservatives will recognise this fact at the next General Election by standing our candidate in Buckingham.’
Ms Leadsom added that Mr Bercow’s decision to allow MPs to ban No Deal ‘acts in complete disregard to the will of the people – not just on Brexit, but on whom they have chosen to govern them.
‘It adds insult to injury that in doing so, Labour have afforded themselves power without accountability. This is a route to the diminution of our democracy – which is why the Prime Minister is now calling for a General Election.
‘Bring it on, I say, and give us back an impartial Speaker.’
Eurosceptics have been ramping up pressure on Boris Johnson – pictured left meeting Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar in Dublin this morning – to stick to his promise not to delay the UK’s departure from the EU
- UK parliament Speaker John Bercow announces he will quit
- John Bercow to quit as Speaker of the House of Commons
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- House of Commons Speaker to step down by October 31
- UK Speaker John Bercow bows out with some parting shots for Brexit critics
- UK Speaker John Bercow bows out with parting shots for Brexit critics
- Commons speaker John Bercow announces he is standing down
- House of Commons speaker John Bercow to quit
- John Bercow to quit as Speaker of House of Commons