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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