THE OUTGOING Speaker John Bercow, due to leave on October 31, has said that he will forcibly remove PM Johnson from office if he refuses to surrender to the EU by going to Brussels and pleading for a Brexit extension to January 31 2020.
Johnson has said that he ‘would rather be found dead in a ditch’ than surrender in this way.
The would-be dictator Bercow said, delivering the annual Bignham Lecture: ‘If the government comes close to disobeying the law, Parliament would want to cut off such a possibility and do so forcefully.’
He continued that ‘Neither the limitations of the existing rule book nor ticking of the clock will stop it doing so.’
He pledged that he was prepared to allow ‘Additional procedural creativity’ if that was necessary to stop Johnson ignoring the law.
The Commons Speaker, ignoring the 2016 ‘Leave’ referendum result, added that the only possible Brexit was one backed by MPs.
A new law, passed before the suspension of Parliament, seeks to force the PM to seek a delay until 31 January 2020, unless a deal or no-deal exit is approved by MPs by 19 October.
Delivering his lecture in London, Bercow said: ‘Not obeying the law must surely be a non-starter. Period.’
He said it would be a ‘terrible example to set to the rest of society’.
‘The only form of Brexit which we will have, whenever that might be, will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed,’ he said.
He continued: ‘Surely, in 2019, in modern Britain, in a parliamentary democracy, we – parliamentarians, legislators – cannot in all conscience be conducting a debate as to whether adherence to the law is or isn’t required.
‘If that demands additional procedural creativity in order to come to pass, it is a racing certainty that this will happen, and that neither the limitations of the existing rule book nor the ticking of the clock will stop it doing so,’ he added.
The new law could force a Brexit delay beyond the current 31 October deadline by requiring the prime minister to request an extension to the UK’s EU membership.
This would be done by making PM Johnson write to EU leaders to prolong talks under Article 50 – the part of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty which sets out what happens when a country decides that it wants to leave the EU.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the government would abide by the law, but would ‘test to the limit’ what it requires of ministers.
Meanwhile, Bercow compared Brexit and its 17.4 million Leave votes to a bank robbery saying: ‘One should no more refuse to request an extension of Article 50 because of what one might regard as the noble end of departing from the EU as soon as possible, than one could possibly excuse robbing a bank on the basis that the cash stolen would be donated to a charitable cause immediately afterwards.’
Tory Brexiteer, MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, commented that the role of the Speaker had become ‘irretrievably politicised and radicalised’.
Jenkin, who chairs the constitutional affairs select committee in Parliament, said the Commons should ‘adapt itself’ to a new role for the Speaker.
The current position allows the occupant ‘unregulated and untrammelled power’, he told Radio 4’s Today programme.
Another Leave-voting Conservative MP, Michael Fabricant, said Bercow had brought the office of Speaker into disrepute.
Meanwhile, the group of 78 opposition MPs is following up its successful legal action with another one in the Scottish Courts.
It now wants the court to rule that it (the court) will ask Brussels for a Brexit extension if PM Johnson keeps his pledge and refuses to do so.
Joanna Cherry QC, SNP, and Jolyon Maugham, a barrister, issued proceedings at the Inner House of the Court of Session on Thursday.
They have selected that court since they consider it has the power to sign the letter if the PM refuses.
The court is expected to deal with the matter ‘speedily’, and may well decide that a judge can replace the PM!
• Meanwhile, Downing Street has announced Johnson will travel to Luxembourg on Monday to hold talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and the country’s prime minister Xavier Bettel.