ANAL­Y­SIS

Daily Express - - News - MACER HALL Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

THE ex­tra­or­di­nary de­ci­sion by John Ber­cow to re­write the rules of the par­lia­men­tary game risks turn­ing West­min­ster’s Brexit paral­y­sis into a full-blown con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis.

Tory Euroscep­tics have long sus­pected that the Com­mons Speaker, who has trusted to re­main im­par­tial in this in­creas­ingly poi­sonous wran­gle.

They were dis­mayed when Mr Ber­cow post­poned his promised re­tire­ment last year, in­sist­ing his ex­pe­ri­ence was needed.

And they felt their sus­pi­cions were con­firmed

when he an­nounced his judg­ment now trumps past cus­tom and prac­tice.

He blithely told MPs: “I un­der­stand the im­por­tance of prece­dent, but prece­dent does not com­pletely bind.

“If we were guided only by prece­dent, man­i­festly noth­ing in our pro­ce­dures would ever change.”

His ac­tions sig­nalled a ma­jor shift in power from the Gov­ern­ment to a leg­is­la­ture packed with MPs who voted for the coun­try to stay in the EU in the ref­er­en­dum.

Seething min­is­ters are en­cour­ag­ing Tory back­benchers to launch an­other bid to un­seat him, adding to the chaos.

Mr Ber­cow may not be too wor­ried about his po­si­tion but his con­tin­ued pres­ence in the Speaker’s chair will fur­ther tox­ify the at­mos­phere. He took up his an­cient of­fice nearly a decade ago promis­ing to re­build pub­lic trust af­ter the MPs’ ex­penses scan­dal.

If the ref­er­en­dum vote to leave the EU ends up be­ing thwarted, he can ex­pect to re­tire leav­ing that trust in ru­ins.

Speaker John Ber­cow in the Com­mons yes­ter­day openly ad­mit­ted vot­ing Re­main in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum, can­not be

Pic­tures: UK PAR­LIA­MENT / JES­SICA TAY­LOR / PA

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