Speaker's Brexit ruling 'extremely concerning', say ministers

Category : UK News
Updated On : January 10, 2019 10:25 PM
By Indian Times Daily

John Bercow has been accused of "unilaterally changing" parliamentary rules in the wake of a row over a government Brexit defeat in Parliament. Critics of the Commons Speaker say he broke with precedent and ignored the advice of officials when he approved a vote on the PM's "Plan B" response, which ministers lost by 11 votes. Mr Bercow said he had made an "honest judgement" in the interests of MPs.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom said his actions were "extremely concerning". But Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg defended the Speaker as "a House of Commons champion" - despite disagreeing with his decision - and said the amendment itself was "completely irrelevant [and] unimportant". On Thursday, Mr Bercow remained defiant in the face of more criticism from Mrs Leadsom during business questions, as she again accused him of "arbitrarily changing the rules" for the amendment.

The Speaker told the Commons he required "no lessons or lectures" on how to do his job, and that he would carry on with his duties "no matter how much abuse I get". There were angry scenes in the Commons on Wednesday when Mr Bercow agreed to allow a vote on an amendment to a government motion tabled by Brexit rebel Dominic Grieve.

The vote was ultimately lost by the government, meaning ministers will have to come up with revised plans within three days, rather than the three weeks previously agreed in law, if Mrs May's EU withdrawal deal is rejected by MPs next week.

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