Commons Speaker issues direct challenge to ministers threatening to ignore legislation
John Bercow has threatened Boris Johnson that he will be prepared to rip up the parliamentary rulebook to stop any illegal attempt by the prime minister to take the UK out of the EU without a deal on 31 October.
In a direct warning to No 10, the Speaker of the House of Commons said he is prepared to allow “additional procedural creativity” if necessary to allow parliament to block Johnson from ignoring the law.
“If we come close to [Johnson ignoring the law], I would imagine parliament would want to cut off that possibility … Neither the limitations of the existing rulebook or ticking of the clock will stop it doing so,” he said, delivering the annual Bingham lecture in London. “If I have been remotely ambiguous so far, let me make myself crystal clear. The only form of Brexit that we have, whenever that might be, will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.”
He also proposed a written constitution to stop “executive malpractice or fiat”, which could potentially have avoided the constitutional crisis that the UK has found itself in over Brexit.
Bercow’s dramatic intervention will be one of his last as Speaker, as he has announced that he will stand down at the end of October just two weeks after parliament is due to return from its current state of suspension.
Johnson faced yet another difficult day on Thursday as he was forced to deny having misled the Queen over his reasons for proroguing parliament, which was judged unlawful this week by a Scottish court. The full ruling of three appeal court judges was published on Thursday, in which they agreed unanimously it was to prevent proper parliamentary scrutiny of his Brexit strategy, and for no other reason.