John Bercow was quizzed by MPs in the House of Commons after he selected four main amendments for the debate on extending the Brexit process. Amendment B, which sought to reject a second Brexit referendum, was not selected by the Speaker promoting anger among some Brexiteers. Deputy chairman of the Conservative Party’s eurosceptic European Research Group, Mark Francois, criticised the decision, pointing out how many MPs had signed the amendment before Sir Bernard Jenkin stood up raising a point of order claiming there might be “some concern” over the amendments.
Mr Jenkin said: “There might be some concern that the selection of amendments does not reflect the will of the house because the will of the house cannot be expressed on an amendment, as you have said previously until there has been a vote on that amendment.
“Therefore, given that amendment B, expresses different matters, that you have chosen not to select, what are we to conclude on your own views on these matters.”
Some MPs in the chamber were heard groaning, with others shocked at the remark by Mr Jenkin.
The Speaker replied: “He is not to conclude anything in respect of my views.
“What he can conclude from the selection is that key propositions will be put to the House.
“If people agree with those propositions they will presumably vote in support of those amendments, and if they disagree with those propositions, they will presumably vote against those amendments.”
Moments before the interaction MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, Mr Francois, pointed out amendment B was signed by “127 members of this house including the entirety of the DUP, 13 members of the Labour Party, and one independent to boot” as well as more than 100 Conservatives.
Mr Francois claimed “it, therefore, had far more signatories than any other amendment on the order paper”, adding that although he “accepts the final decision is yours”, he asked the Speaker for guidance as to why it was not chosen – and a rival amendment pursuing a second referendum was chosen.
The Speaker hit back saying that “members do have to take the rough with the smooth”.
Mr Bercow added that while the number of signatories is important it is “not the only factor”, in the decision making, and he tries to “always do my best to be fair to the miscellany of different points of view represented in this House”.
In early 2017 Mr Bercow admitted to a group of students that he had voted to remain in the 2016 EU referendum.
He told students at Reading University: “Personally, I voted to remain. I thought it was better to stay in the European Union than not.”
Amendments selected by Speaker Mr Bercow include Amendment H, tabled by Sarah Wollaston, which seeks an Article 50 extension to stage a second referendum with Remain and Parliament’s preferred Brexit option on the ballot paper.
Brexit backing MPs in the House of Commons claimed it was their view that amendment H would rule out a second referendum if it was supported.
Other amendments included one which would allow MPs to take control of the Brexit process, one which would halt a third meaningful vote of Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement, and one which notes that Parliament has “decisively” rejected both Theresa May’s deal and no deal and calls for a delay to Brexit “to provide parliamentary time for this House to find a majority for a different approach”.
The Government put down a motion for debate on Thursday that offers to seek a one-off extension of Article 50, delaying the scheduled Brexit date of March 29 to June 30 if MPs approve the deal negotiated with the EU by next Wednesday.
Speaking on Wednesday, the Prime Minister warned if the deal, which has already been rejected twice by overwhelming majorities, is not approved, a longer extension will be needed.
Mrs May said: ”I do not think that would be the right outcome. But the House needs to face up to the consequences of the decisions it has taken.”