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Bernard Jenkin increases criticism of John Bercow amid Brexit uncertainty

The MP has previously said it was “becoming remarkable” how often the Speaker pleases “one lot and not the other lot”.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has been criticised by Bernard Jenkin (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has been criticised by Bernard Jenkin (Jonathan Brady/PA)

By PA Reporter

Sir Bernard Jenkin has stepped up his criticism of John Bercow after the Brexit process appeared to stall on Tuesday and the Commons Speaker prepared to step down.

Mr Bercow on Monday rejected a Government bid to hold a meaningful vote on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal on the basis it would be “repetitive and disorderly” to do so.

On Tuesday he said the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement Bill) was “in limbo”.

Mr Bercow had come under fire on Monday from Brexit-backing MPs, including the Conservatives’ Sir Bernard, who said it was “becoming remarkable” how often Mr Bercow pleases “one lot and not the other lot”.

The Harwich and North Essex MP, who is also the chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, on Wednesday raised questions about Mr Bercow’s impartiality and the future of the Speaker’s role.

“I had plenty of frustrations with his predecessors, but, as colleagues will attest, it was not in my character to criticise a Speaker’s ruling, even in private, let alone on the floor of the House of Commons, before this week,” Sir Bernard wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

“There is an understanding that, in future, speakers should draw more on the advice and experience of the three deputy speakers, so the Speaker is left less exposed than now.”

Sir Bernard said he had proposed forming a special select committee within the Commons to consider governance of the House and the Speaker’s role.

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MP Bernard Jenkin (centre) has raised questions about the impartiality of the Speaker (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He expressed hope that the next Speaker would be open to such an investigation.

“Restoring confidence in ourselves as an institution and the confidence of the public should be the priority,” he added.

Nine MPs have put themselves forward to replace Mr Bercow as Speaker, who has said he will stand down from his role and as an MP for Buckingham on October 31 or at the next general election depending on which occurs first.

Shailesh Vara was joined by Sir Henry Bellingham, Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman, Meg Hillier, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Dame Eleanor Laing, Sir Edward Leigh and Rosie Winterton at a hustings event in Westminster earlier this month.

Restoring confidence in ourselves as an institution and the confidence of the public should be the priority Bernard Jenkin

At the time, the Conservatives’ Mr Vara said Mr Bercow had “tarnished the role of the Speaker with his biasness”.

“I think what is required is that we need to rewrite the rule book, and make it absolutely clear what the Speaker can and cannot do in difficult circumstances,” the North West Cambridgeshire MP said.

“And that is actually to protect the Speaker as much as protecting Parliament.”

PA

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