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Tuesday 19 March 2019

John Bercow IS Public Enemy Number One

Is it a reference to Al Capone? Pretty Boy Floyd? Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán? Is it a film? About a modern-day British or European gangster? No, it’s the Speaker of the House of Commons; our free and fearless press, or at least the screamingly Europhobic part of it, has declared John Bercow the villain of the latest Brexit twist.
Yesterday, the Speaker was reminded by a number of MPs, the most memorable and indeed eloquent contribution coming from Labour’s Chris Bryant, that there is a longstanding precedent which dictates that a motion, once defeated, cannot be brought back for another vote if it is the same, or substantially the same, motion. With this Bercow readily agreed, and let the House know so, inducing a headless chicken fit in Tory ranks.
Now, it has caused those who scrabble around the dunghill that is Grubstreet to come close to spontaneous combustion. Theresa May, their champion, their least worst bet for getting the Brexit their proprietors had demanded, could not merely keep bringing her twice-defeated Meaningful Vote back to the Commons. Only one man was to blame.
The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph knew who that was. “‘A major constitutional crisis’ … Disgust in the Commons and disbelief in Brussels as the Speaker blocks third vote on May’s Brexit deal” it scoffs. Note “constitutional crisis” in quote marks. Because there isn’t one. The Murdoch Times was in the same area with “Bercow is sabotaging Brexit deal, says No 10 … Speaker accused of scuppering third Commons vote on May’s plan”. No blame on the PM for abusing Parliamentary process, mind.
Over in the even more downmarket corner, though, there was no such restraint. The joke newspaper that is the Express frothed “THE BREXIT DESTROYER … Remainer Bercow triggers ‘constitutional crisis’ by ruling out PM’s third vote”. And the Mail was its usual thundering and righteous self. “Fury as grandstanding Speaker ambushes PM with bombshell ruling on her deal … Now Britain must beg EU to delay leaving - and faces up to 20 MONTHS in limbo … SMIRK THAT SAYS: BREXIT BE DAMNED”.
The outburst of Gammonitis was completed by the Murdoch Sun, where righteousness was replaced by straightforward abuse. “17.4M Over-Ridden By One … Smug Speaker torpedoes PM on Brexit vote … B*LL*CKS TO BERCOW”. Subtle, aren’t they? The paper’s editorial heaped on further abuse, calling Bercow a “bent referee”.
Ah, the sound of whimpering impotence, yet another instalment in screamingly anti-European press barons and their editors trying to screw over the country and failing, while all the time pretending that it’s all the fault of the rotten remainers. There has been no disbelief in Brussels; nothing would faze the EU and its officers after all the previous British messing around. What has happened is what the press claimed it wanted all along.

John Bercow has demonstrated the sovereignty of Parliament. The problem for the Fourth Estate is that they didn’t want it to be quite that sovereign. Well, boo sodding hoo.
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Arnold said...

"But what happened yesterday was worse. Of course, there will be some, especially on the Labour side, who will defend Bercow’s elaborate appeal to precedent — going back as far as 1604 and ending 99 years ago in 1920".
That's because May is the first PM in a century to try and break Parliamentary rules so blatantly. Not an argument against Bercow's decision.


Anonymous said...

His comedy timing is impeccable, we awoke to the sound of spontaneously combusting gammon throughout little England, hurrah for Parliament!

J said...

Maybe I'm misreading this whole thing... but doesn't Bercow blocking the WA being re-tabled for a third time either increase the chances of a no-deal exit (what the rabid press wants) or makes absolutely no change at all - because May's deal would have lost for a third time anyway?

It all seems a bit "meh".

Also they wanted to "bring back control" and "sovereignty of Parliament" and now that they have it... they seem strangely annoyed that Parliament is sovereign again.

Its almost as if they didn't actually want that, what they wanted was sovereignty of the press to demand the tories do as they were told... wait, what!

Andy Foster said...

Even more depressing than the Mule or the Excess, was BBC News this morning 'doorstepping' Bercow and aggressively questioning him as he went out casually dressed to get a cup of coffee: the treatment normally reserved for investigative journalists who've cornered the villain. They got nothing from him - they wouldn't, his impartiality means he doesn't do casual interviews - and there seemed no point in it other than to up the ante, cause unpleasantness, and generally act like thugs. Are they all fighting to be top of the class with the man you call Lord Hall-Hall?

They'd never do that to Theresa May or a member of her cabinet. Though come to think of it I can remember them doing it to Jeremy Corbyn at his front gate.

rob said...

As someone has pointed out on Twitter it's pretty ironic that the Government spent millions on fighting Gina Miller for wanting to have a meaningful vote and now they want to bring one back for the third time.

In any event Parliament, as a whole, if they want to take back control and override The Speaker and May could fudge the substance of the MV with the aid of the EU who mut be pretty sick and tired of the whole process dealing with a Government who give the impression that they don't know what they are doing.

On the whole nobody seems to have thought through on either side what is involved in leaving. As Tim has blogged elswhere sensible thoughts should be turning to revoke Art 50 and start all over again with adequate time for Leavers to get together a credible plan if that is still what they want to do. And then put the new deal to the electorate for approval.

At present none of the options available Leave with May's deal, leave with no deal or remain seem to have a sizeable majority in the House. Both the leaving options leave us worse off so why not remain until a credible plan is worked out and any infrastructure necessary can be planned to be put in place?

Bonus - most of the media (owners) won't like it.

Gonzoland said...

@T W
Ah, the Take Back Control war cry.
Ever since T May signed Article 50, the EU has had more control over the UK than it ever had in the past.

Anonymous said...

Certainly media and their paymasters are, not unexpectedly, spitting more rabid foam.

But let's not forget they are merely taking advantage of an opportunity handed to them by an indoctrinated and largely apathetic British public.
Four decades of this disgusting muck have brought us to this.

We deserve the media, politicians and society we now have.

Anonymous said...

The toys have come out of the press pram even more spectacularly than I imagined. Suddenly they want endless votes until they get their way which they seem to have been dead against until now. Funny old business isn't it?

ashie said...

You wouldn't even get 3 goes at passing your motion at your local whippet-racing club.

Nobody needed parliamentary precedent to know it was wrong.

Richard Thomas said...

This is all artificial since the previous week John Bercow answered a question from Angela Eagle to the effect that he was looking at whether a repeat vote was in order so with that and his general approach the decision should have been no surprise to a normally able government. The fact that the Leader of the House was caught unawares says more for the utter uselessness of Angela Ledsome than anything else. In a normal government she would have resigned for this monumental bit of incompetence.