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House of Commons Speaker John Bercow to stand down

Commons Speaker John Bercow has announced that he will stand down as an MP at the next general election or on October 31 - whichever comes first.

Addressing MPs he said he had made a pledge to his family at the 2017 election it would be his last, saying he intended to honour that pledge.

Mr Bercow said if MPs did not vote for an election on Monday, the "least disruptive" time for him to stand down would be on October 31, when the matters of the Queen's speech had been dealt with.

It is also the scheduled date for the UK's departure from the EU.

Mr Bercow continued: "Least disruptive because that date will fall shortly after the votes on the Queen's speech expected on October 21 and 22.

"The week or so after that may be quite lively, and it would be best to have an experienced figure in the chair for that short period.

"Most democratic because it will mean that a ballot is held when all members have some knowledge of the candidates.

"This is far preferable to a contest at the beginning of a parliament when new MPs will not be similarly informed and may find themselves vulnerable to undue institutional influence."

Mr Bercow has served as an MP and latterly as Speaker for the past 22 years.

He said it was a privilege to have served as Speaker of the Commons and one which he would be "eternally grateful for".

Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Gove thanked the Speaker for his service. Notably during a round of applause the government benches did not take part.

He has become unpopular among some MPs particularly for his actions in regard Brexit motions in the House.

Mr Bercow concluded saying he had sought to be the "backbenchers backstop".

"This has been, let me put it explicitly, the greatest privilege and honour of my professional life for which I will be eternally grateful.

"I wish my successor in the chair the very best fortune in standing up for the rights of honourable and right honourable members individually and for Parliament institutionally as the Speaker of the House of Commons."

Mr Bercow's speech was greeted with sustained applause from MPs in the chamber. Opposition MPs rose to their feet as did some former Tory MPs, notably those opposing a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Corbyn added: "This Parliament is stronger for your being Speaker. Our democracy is the stronger for your being the Speaker. And whatever you do when you finally step down from Parliament, you do so with the thanks of a very large number of people."

Mr Corbyn offered his thanks on behalf of the Labour Party, noting: "Enjoy the last short period in your office but it's going to be one of the most dramatic there has been.

"I think your choice of timing and dates is incomparable and will be recorded in the history books of parliamentary democracy."

The Speaker of the Commons is an MP who stands in general elections but is usually unopposed by the major political parties.

However, the Conservatives had announced they intend to stand someone to run against Mr Bercow in the forthcoming election.

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