Europe

Emotional John Bercow announces plan to step down as House of Commons speaker

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Britain's House of Commons Speaker John Bercow says he will step down by the end of next month as MPs consider Boris Johnson's bid for an early election.

Mr Bercow has told MPs that if parliament votes in favour of an early election, he will quit before the campaign.

If they don't, as is more likely, he will quit on October 31 - the day Britain is due to leave the EU.

He says he will quit both as Speaker and as a Member of Parliament.

UK Parliament of Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow after he announced that he will stand down as Commons Speaker at the end of next month
UK Parliament of Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow after he announced that he will stand down as Commons Speaker at the end of next month.
AAP

"At the 2017 election, I promised my wife and children that it would be my last," Mr Bercow told the House of Commons as his wife Sally looked on from the gallery.

"This is a pledge that I intend to keep. If the House votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this parliament ends," he said.

"If the House does not so vote, I have concluded that the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business on Thursday, October 31."

He was given a standing ovation from many members of the lower house as he announced his plan to stand down in the coming weeks.

Mr Bercow entered the parliament in 1997 and held several shadow ministerial positions before taking the Speaker's chair on June 22 2009, promising to serve "no more than nine years in total".

In recent months he came under fire for a series of controversial rulings in the chamber which were widely considered to favour Remain supporters.

Members of Parliament gather near the Commons Speaker John Bercow urging him to review a video clip of Jeremy Corbyn
AAP

"We degrade this parliament at our peril," Mr Bercow said during his announcement, with his gaze fixed on the benches in the chamber where government members sit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praised Mr Bercow for being a "superb" Speaker, and said he had "totally changed the way in which the job has been done".

"This parliament is stronger for your being Speaker. Our democracy is the stronger for your being the Speaker," Mr Corbyn said.

Senior Conservative MP Michael Gove said it was clear Mr Bercow loved the House of Commons and democracy.
"Your commitment to your principles and to your constituents is unwavering and an example to others," Gove said.

However Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage tweeted "good riddance" in response to  Mr Bercow's announcement.

It come as the month-long suspension of the British parliament ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in an apparent bid to stop MPs blocking his Brexit strategy is set to begin.

"Parliament will be prorogued at close of business today," a spokesman for Prime minister Boris Johnson said, using the parliamentary term for the suspension.

He added it would take place regardless of the outcome of a government-led vote on holding a snap election next month.

 

 

 

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