Ber­cow: I’ll stop PM clos­ing Par­lia­ment

Speaker vows to thwart John­son if he at­tempts to de­liver no-deal Brexit by sus­pend­ing Par­lia­ment

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Christo­pher Hope and Camilla Tominey

JOHN BER­COW said last night that he would refuse to let Boris John­son take Bri­tain out of the Euro­pean Union by sus­pend­ing Par­lia­ment. The Com­mons Speaker said he would fight any at­tempt to pro­rogue Par­lia­ment “with ev­ery bone in my body”.

He added that MPS could stop Bri­tain leav­ing with­out a deal at the end of Oc­to­ber, putting him on a col­li­sion course with Do­minic Cum­mings, the Prime Min­is­ter’s chief strate­gist.

Mr Ber­cow dis­missed sug­ges­tions that he would stand down in the short term as Speaker.

Mr Ber­cow’s first com­ments since Mr John­son en­tered No10 last month set the scene for a con­sti­tu­tional bat­tle this au­tumn when the Prime Min­is­ter could find him­self try­ing to take the UK out of the EU with­out a deal against the wishes of MPS. As Prime Min­is­ter, Mr John­son can pro­rogue Par­lia­ment, but it is not clear how Mr Ber­cow would at­tempt to stop him.

Mr Cum­mings has sug­gested that Mr John­son could call a gen­eral elec­tion af­ter Oct 31, even if he lost a no-con­fi­dence mo­tion, al­low­ing for a no-deal Brexit while Par­lia­ment is dis­solved.

How­ever, Mr Ber­cow told an au­di­ence in Ed­in­burgh yesterday: “The one thing I feel strongly about is that the House of Com­mons must have its way.

“And if there is an at­tempt to cir­cum­vent, to by­pass or – God for­bid! – to close down Par­lia­ment; that is anath­ema to me and I will fight it with ev­ery bone in my body to stop that hap­pen­ing. We can­not have a sit­u­a­tion in which Par­lia­ment is shut down – we are a demo­cratic so­ci­ety. And Par­lia­ment will be heard and no­body is go­ing to get away as far as I am con­cerned with stop­ping that hap­pen­ing.”

Dur­ing the Tory lead­er­ship race in June, Mr Ber­cow told MPS it was “blind­ingly ob­vi­ous” that Par­lia­ment was not go­ing to be “evac­u­ated from the cen­tre stage of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process”. But that was be­fore Mr John­son en­tered Down­ing Street and the idea of pro­rogu­ing Par­lia­ment be­came a mean­ing­ful prospect.

As the Ed­in­burgh New Town event ended, an au­di­ence mem­ber shouted at Mr Ber­cow, “can Par­lia­ment stop a nodeal Brexit?” The Re­main-sup­port­ing Speaker replied: “Yes.”

Mr Ber­cow an­gered min­is­ters ear­lier this year when he broke with con­ven­tion and al­lowed Tory Re­main­ers to amend a Gov­ern­ment mo­tion to force votes on a se­ries of Brexit op­tions af­ter Theresa May’s deal was voted down.

He hinted he would be pre­pared to do the same again, say­ing Erskine May, the Com­mons rule book, con­tained

prece­dents that could be changed or amended. He also re­jected sug­ges­tions he could stand down this year, adding: “Not just yet. I have no plans to re­tire at the mo­ment.”

Mr Ber­cow was speak­ing shortly af­ter a judge agreed to fast-track a hear­ing on whether the Prime Min­is­ter can legally sus­pend Par­lia­ment to force through a no-deal exit af­ter 70 Re­mainer MPS filed a pe­ti­tion at the Court of Ses­sion in Ed­in­burgh. A hear­ing is set for Fri­day Sept 6.

MPS re­turn from their sum­mer break on Sept 3, and Labour could call a con­fi­dence vote any day that week.

Se­nior Gov­ern­ment fig­ures say the EU is wait­ing to see the out­come of any par­lia­men­tary bids to pre­vent no deal be­fore it con­sid­ers mak­ing amend­ments to the With­drawal Agree­ment. Mr John­son has re­fused to rene­go­ti­ate un­less the Ir­ish back­stop is re­moved.

Last night it emerged that Philip Ham­mond, the for­mer chan­cel­lor, told Si­mon Coveney, Ire­land’s deputy prime min­is­ter, that “no deal would never hap­pen” in a meet­ing af­ter the first mean­ing­ful vote on the With­drawal Agree­ment, which the Gov­ern­ment lost by a his­toric 230 votes in Jan­uary. A se­nior Cab­i­net source told The Daily Tele­graph: “In telling the Ir­ish no deal was not a pos­si­bil­ity, he was com­pletely un­der­min­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s ne­go­ti­at­ing po­si­tion.”

My Ham­mond also said that a nodeal Brexit “would be a be­trayal of the 2016 ref­er­en­dum re­sult”, adding: “It must not hap­pen.”

Writ­ing in The Times, he said that there is nei­ther a pub­lic nor par­lia­men­tary man­date for no deal and warns the Prime Min­is­ter that Par­lia­ment will “make its voice heard” to stop it hap­pen­ing. He added: “To pre­tend now that 2016 Leave vot­ers voted for a hard no-deal Brexit is a trav­esty of the truth.”

In an ar­ti­cle in The Daily Tele­graph to­day, Am­ber Rudd, the Work and Pen­sions Sec­re­tary, in­sists Bri­tain is “pre­pared for the global eco­nomic head­winds” af­ter the lat­est job fig­ures showed em­ploy­ment had grown to a record 32.8mil­lion.

It has been reported that Don­ald Trump plans to pri­ori­tise meet­ing Mr John­son be­fore any other Euro­pean lead­ers to “send a sig­nal to them” at the G7 summit in France next week. The US has said it is pre­pared to work im­me­di­ately on sec­tor-by-sec­tor trade agree­ments af­ter Bri­tain leaves the EU.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.