John Bercow plans to stay on as Commons Speaker


John Bercow.
UK Parliament / AFP

John Bercow has said he has no plans to stand down as Speaker of the House of Commons, despite speculation that he would retire this summer.

He said he would remain in post while there were what he described as “momentous events taking place in Parliament”.

He told the Guardian that it was not “sensible to vacate the chair” at the moment.

There have been calls for the next Speaker to be a woman.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said Mr Bercow had become a “pivotal” figure in Brexit debates in the Commons, both enraging the government and some Tory MPs, while earning plaudits from others.

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Media captionThe Speaker has found fame across Europe with his signature cry capturing the public’s attention

After his first election nearly 10 years ago, Mr Bercow said he intended to serve no more than nine years. He has since been re-elected unopposed again in 2015 and 2017.

But on Tuesday, he told the Guardian newspaper: “I’ve never said anything about going in July of this year.

“Secondly, I do feel that now is a time in which momentous events are taking place and there are great issues to be resolved and in those circumstances, it doesn’t seem to me sensible to vacate the chair.”

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As Speaker, Mr Bercow is in charge of keeping order in the Commons, selecting which amendments will be voted on and deciding whether or not to grant emergency debates and urgent questions.

Mr Bercow has faced claims of anti-Brexit bias and overruling precedent on “a number of key votes”.

On Tuesday, he dismissed claims from some Brexiteers that because a no-deal exit is the default position in law, it will “inevitably” happen if no agreement is reached by 31 October with Brussels.

He insisted MPs would get the chance to have their say on no deal.

And in March, he controversially ruled out MPs voting on Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal for a third time unless the government asked a different question.

Speaking to the BBC, Brexit Minister James Cleverly said he had “long known that the House of Commons and the Speaker will do everything they can to prevent a no-deal Brexit.”

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Earlier this month, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt made an attempt to remove him from his position, saying even his supporters “do not now seriously dispute his bias”.

In January, Mr Bercow dismissed claims that he had displayed an anti-Brexit sticker in his car, insisting it belonged to his wife and that she was “entitled to her views”.

The Speaker has also faced allegations of bullying, which he denies.

Labour MP Chris Bryant has said that when Mr Bercow does stand down, his successor must focus on “tending to the wounds” caused by Brexit rows and harassment scandals.

Meanwhile, two female MPs – Gloria De Piero and Nicky Morgan – have called for the next Speaker to be a woman.

What is the role of the Speaker?


The Speaker, elected by MPs, is in charge of keeping order in the House of Commons.

They pick MPs to speak in debates and can suspend those who deliberately break the rules.

They also select which amendments will be voted on and decide whether or not to grant emergency debates and urgent questions.

In addition to these duties any new Speaker will have to handle allegations of bullying and harassment in Westminster.

The position is an impartial role and, once elected, the Speaker is expected to resign from their party.