Andrew Neil confronts John Bercow on reign as Speaker – ‘Don’t think you were impartial!’

Posted on Nov 7 2019 - 1:24pm by admin

Mr Bercow, who enraged Tory Brexiteers with some of the decisions he made during his term of office, surprised few when he revealed himself to be a Remainer in a valedictory speech to the Foreign Press Association just days after standing down. He said: “I’m no longer the Speaker. I don’t have to remain impartial now.”

But quick as a flash BBC political presenter Mr Neil hit back and tweeted: “Many folks don’t think you were impartial when you were the Speaker.”

Mr Bercow became known for championing the rights of backbenchers during his 10 years in the Speaker’s chair and made urgent questions a prominent part of the Parliamentary day.

But in recent months he was regularly accused of bending the rules to allow rebel backbench MPs such as Dominic Grieve and Hilary Benn to thwart Brexit by limiting the Government’s room for manoeuvre.

This included allowing MPs to debate and pass the so-called Benn Act which forced Boris Johnson to request a third delay to Brexit by law.

Tory Brexiteer Sir Bernard Jenkin, who is also Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee chairman, openly questioned Mr Bercow’s impartiality after he refused to allow a meaningful vote on Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal on the basis it would be “repetitive and disorderly” to do so.

Sir Bernard told him it was “becoming remarkable” how often Mr Bercow pleased “one lot and not the other lot”.

Mr Bercow has, however, rejected claims he blocked Brexit with his interpretations of Commons procedure and insists it was Parliament not him that prevented Britain from leaving the EU by now.

READ MORE: BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg outlines differences between Bercow and Hoyle

He told Foreign Press Association members: “I respect the Prime Minister and he has the right to do what he did also in the House of Commons.

“But my job was to stand up for the rights of the House of Commons. No apology for championing the rights of Parliament.”

He rejected recent comments by the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, who described Westminster as a “zombie parliament”.

He said: “He has the material disadvantage of being totally wrong. Parliament is no disgrace at all and did its job well.”

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