Time to Get Under Bercow’s Skin

BY DAVID EYLES

Last week John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, discussed the mechanics of leaving the EU directly with the President of the EU Parliament, David Sassoli. The YouTube clip of Mr Sassoli’s statement on this subject is here. The following is my transcript of Mr Sassoli’s statement to the EU Parliament on the 9th October:

” …I also had a fruitful discussion with Speaker Bercow in which I set out my view that any request by British institutions for extensions or prorogations should allow the British people to give its views, either in a referendum or in a general election. Speaker Bercow and I were very much on the same wavelength regarding the importance  of our respective parliaments in managing Brexit. We share an awareness that a chaotic exit of the UK from the EU will work to the detriment of citizens on both sides. I do trust that ‘no deal’ can be avoided at the end of the day. The EU has nevertheless adopted all necessary measures to prepare for the consequences should it occur.”

Social media was alive with widespread disgust at the antics of those who claim power over us – and especially Bercow.

In this statement, it is clear that Bercow has communicated with Mr Sassoli and is agreed on such matters as the need for some sort of public consultation over matters as wide ranging as prorogations of Parliament (a matter of  prerogative) and extensions under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (a matter of international law). Furthermore it seems they were on the same wavelength when it came to ideas concerning the “management of Brexit” (a matter for the executive under Royal prerogative) by their respective parliaments. Neither of these two gentlemen have any powers or rights whatsoever to interfere in negotiations between the UK government and the EU Commission over Brexit; or, indeed, any other matter. And yet here they both are, strutting like peacocks, proclaiming an authority that neither has.

If you don’t believe me, here is the Parliamentary website page on the ‘Office and Role of Speaker’:

“The Speaker of the House of Commons chairs debates in the Commons chamber. The holder of this office is an MP who has been elected to be Speaker by other Members of Parliament. During debates they keep order and call MPs to speak.

The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and must remain politically impartial at all times.

The Speaker also represents the Commons to the monarch, the Lords and other authorities and chairs the House of Commons Commission. The current Speaker is John Bercow, MP for Buckingham.”

 

The role of the Speaker extends only to the House of Commons. He does not have any negotiating role or executive power beyond this. And yet, here he is busily agreeing with an official from a foreign power how the UK Parliament (not just the Commons) should proceed on matters over which neither he nor Mr Sassoli have any jurisdiction. Aside from anything else, the question of another referendum, prorogations, extensions to Article 50 and so on, are highly political and therefore matters from which Bercow, given the impartiality that he should be operating,  should recuse himself.

If this was just an isolated incident, it would matter very little in the overall scheme of things. However, the country has been subjected to three and a half years of continual guerrilla-style harassment from those who are seeking to reverse the decision of the British people. This has gradually gathered pace and the next three weeks will be a series of atrocious, nasty, pitched battles between the Continuity Remainers (both Parliamentary and legal) and the Government. John Bercow has already played a significant part in this war of attrition, and clearly expects that he will do so again. His impartiality has long ago flown out of the window.

Meanwhile, lest anyone think that these tiresome shenanigans are being orchestrated only from within the narrow confines of Westminster, listen to this comment by a Flanders MEP about the way in which the EU is attempting to do all it can to sabotage Brexit.

It is quite clear that the EU is encouraging (and in some cases financing) those people within the UK who wish to reverse the result of the referendum and keep us in the EU – by whatever means. The irony of this EU strategy is that they are listening only to one side of the argument and are believing that the Continuity Remainers understand the mood of the public, have control of Parliament and have control of the UK government. To some extent, this explains EU intransigence – they believe they are going to win and so will not concede anything. There are other reasons of course, one being the intrinsic rigidity of the EU structure which makes it impossible to bend in favour of a sensible outcome. But there is little doubt that the attitude of the EU towards the UK has been that of an expectation of collapse in political will. Whilst Theresa May was Prime Minister, that was a perfectly reasonable outcome to be expected. However, Boris Johnson is a different matter, and he is acutely well aware that if he fails to deliver a genuine Brexit, then that will be the end of the Conservative Party.

But let us return to John Bercow.

Bercow’s record as Speaker has been rather mixed. Whilst he has made some reforms which have strengthened the role of Parliament against an over-mighty executive, he has also trashed a number of Parliamentary conventions which have helped to preserve democracy over the centuries. In  particular, in the case of the “Benn Act”, he accelerated the process of passing an emergency bill to reach Royal Assent all in one day, without proper deliberation. All this being for the short-term gain of interfering with the Government’s ability to negotiate our exit from the EU.

There are other issues. Bercow has repeatedly blocked inquiries into bullying of staff on the Parliamentary Estate, perhaps because he himself is implicated in a series of complaints about his own behaviour. As another example, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has tried and failed to hold an inquiry into the activities of Keith Vaz. Mr Vaz’s excuse that he was too ill to be subjected to such an inquiry appears to have had little effect upon his ability to vote in Parliament or his ability to claim Parliamentary expenses. Mr Vaz, like Mr Bercow, has also been the subject of complaints against him of bullying. All these inquiries have strangely run into the sand. Perhaps Mr Vaz has been given much needed moral support by his good friend Speaker Bercow at these difficult moments in his career?

This leaves us with Parliamentary procedure which has been severely compromised by the current Speaker and who, in particular, has exhibited continual and increasing partiality to his favoured political outcomes. In this respect, John Bercow has been one of the worst and most egregiously damaging Speakers in Parliamentary history.

The next Queen’s Speech and State Opening of Parliament will be on the 14th October. This leaves a window of fourteen working days for Parliament to continue its programme of disruption to the Brexit process. There is no doubt that Bercow will play an active part in securing yet more confusion in the attempts to delay our departure from the EU.

The British public are praised by Quentin Letts in this article, for their apparently inexhaustible patience, despite the continual displays of utter insanity from our Parliament and our establishment. But my belief is that that patience is wearing dangerously thin. We have now witnessed several days of Extinction Rebellion camping upon bridges in London and “occupying” aircraft so that they cannot take off. There have been a few arrests, but so far everything has been nice and gentle. Were this to have been a bunch of lorry drivers protesting about lack of progress on Brexit, it is unlikely that the Metropolitan Police would have been so understanding.

John Bercow is due to retire from office on 31st October 2019. But over the last ten years he has done everything he can to trash Parliamentary convention, especially the most precious charge of his office – to be impartial at all times. My view is that the Government should now treat him with the same contempt that he has treated both Parliament, Government and the British people.

The Conservative Party and their supporters in Parliament should do everything they can to interrupt and delay his little schemes in such a way as to make his job untenable in his last fourteen days of business. They should raise points of order continually and in such a way as to question, diminish and finally destroy his authority. As Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg should admonish him for his disgraceful behaviour in speaking to EU presidents. Members should break another convention and refuse to sit down when he shouts “Order”. They should filibuster in such a way as to infuriate him. A vote of ‘No Confidence’ in the Speaker is something that would take precious time out of the Parliamentary timetable. The sight of Bercow becoming redder and furiouser would be wonderful entertainment.

Most of us are now fed up with the continual excuses, lies and procrastination from those who are wedded to the EU. We are appalled at the damage that these sycophants, fellow-travellers and leeches have done to our democracy over the last three and a half years. We are nauseated by the dishonesty of their arguments for another referendum – “a people’s vote” – when we know it is just another excuse to reverse the result of the referendum.

John Bercow has played an active part in this pantomime and he needs to be sent into his taxpayer-funded pension-for-life retirement before he does the country any more harm.

Let us, once and for all, be rid of this disgraceful little maggot and let’s be sure he does not walk away with a peerage.

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