John Bercow says he will stop Boris Johnson from breaking the law on Brexit

John Bercow says he will stop Boris Johnson from breaking the law on Brexit
By Orlando Crowcroft
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John Bercow says he will stop Boris Johnson from breaking the law on Brexit


Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has said he will stop UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson from breaking the law on Brexit.

Speaking at the annual Bingham lecture in London, Bercow said that it was “astonishing” that there was even a question that the government would defy a law that compels Johnson to ask the European Union for an extension of Brexit until January 2020.

Bercow - who announced last week that he would stand down on October 31 after over a decade as speaker - was speaking just days after parliament was suspended for five weeks and after a number of ministers hinted that Johnson may not adhere to the so-called ‘Benn bill’.

Read more: Operation Yellowhammer: UK releases 'no-deal' Brexit documents

The bill, which was passed in parliament last week and requires the prime minister to request an extension rather than crash out of the EU on October 31, has been criticised by Johnson, who has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for more time.

“What conceivable moral force do the public’s representatives in parliament have in seeking to tackle anti-social behaviour, in prosecuting [...] the fight against knife crime, in arguing that the state must protect itself against all sorts of nefarious illegality, if we are to treat for a moment the proposition that it might be in order [...] to disregard a law enacted by parliament,” Bercow said.

“Let me make myself crystal clear, the only form of Brexit that we will have - whenever that might be - will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.”

Parliament remains prorogued until October 14, with Johnson expected to take part in an EU summit on October 17 and 18. Johnson has said that he wants to strike a deal with Europe before the October 31 deadline, but if one can’t be reached Britain will leave without one.

'Part-time Europeans'

On Wednesday, the government was forced to reveal its no-deal planning document, which warned of food shortages and economic chaos in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Johnson was accused of lying to the Queen over his reasons for suspending parliament on Thursday, which he denied.

Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Juncker, the outgoing President of the European Commission, has said Brexit is a "tragedy" and a "failure" but it is "the failure of Britain, not the European Union."

In an interview with Euronews, Juncker traced the origins of the United Kingdom's marginal decision to leave in a 2016 referendum back to the beginning of the nation's ascension to what was then the European Economic Community in 1975:

He also said the UK had only ever been "part-time Europeans".

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