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John Bercow: 'Capable of great things... but he upset a lot of people along the way'

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Britain's Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain October 30, 2019
Britain's Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain October 30, 2019 -
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©UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
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He has been one of the most controversial parliamentary speakers in modern British history, but on Thursday, John Bercow stands down after 10 years in the iconic chair.

His role involves presiding over MPs' debates, maintaining order, and choosing which parliamentarians can address the chamber.

Speaking on Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson served up a tennis metaphor to characterise a speaker renowned for his enthusiasm for the racket sport.

Johnson said Bercow had peppered "every part of the chamber with your own thoughts and opinions like some uncontrollable tennis-ball machine".

The MP for Buckingham has remained a contentious character in the Brexit drama. He took over with parliament’s legacy on the ropes in 2009, following his predecessors’ resignation over the expenses scandal. More recently, he has been forced to weather his own scandals relating to bullying and parliamentary conduct.

Seb Whale, who is currently writing a biography on Bercow, spoke to Euronews about the legacy he leaves behind.

“I think the next speaker will have to define whether Bercow has changed the role for good, and if they carry on with his interventionist ways, then it certainly will be," he said.

"My inkling is that the house will choose someone who is perhaps a safe pair of hands, and slightly less controversial in the wake of John Bercow.

“He was a great reformer and capable of great things, but he did it often uncompromising and very controversial ways and upset a lot of people along the way.”

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