The Speaker of the House of Commons told Channel 4 News that prorogation ‘simply won’t happen’ and ‘Parliament must have its say’.
John Bercow has categorically ruled out allowing Parliament to be suspended to push through a no-deal Brexit, telling Channel 4 News he is “absolutely certain” it won’t happen.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, appearing for a second day at the Edinburgh Fringe, appeared to go further than earlier remarks in which he said the idea was “unthinkable”.
During an audience Q&A, Mr Bercow – who rarely gives interviews and swerved the press on his way into the theatre – was asked by Channel 4 News what he actually intended to do to stop Parliament being shut down.
“It simply won’t happen. I don’t know what part of ‘it won’t happen’ people either don’t understand or refuse to believe,” he said. “I am absolutely certain in my own mind that it will not happen.”
Although he did not reveal how he planned to thwart any bid to prorogue Parliament, Mr Bercow suggested the possibility could give rise to “massive public outcry” and “lengthy legal cases”.
Asked whether he thinks Boris Johnson should rule out suspending parliament – and what he intends to do to stop it, Mr Bercow said: “I’m not going to go issuing public advice to the Prime Minister.”
He added: “Obviously I speak to ministers, including the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, from time to time – and any advice I offer I think I ought to offer privately.
“What I would say, is that I regard it as unimaginable that that scenario will arise. We will have in due course a recess – after September because of conferences – and it’s up to the government, if it wants that recess, to propose the length of it. The House will get to decide on the length of it and indeed on the fact of it. That is the way it is.”
Mr Bercow continued: “The prorogation that has been mooted from time to time – which I know the Prime Minister has indicated is not his intention – won’t happen. It simply won’t happen. I don’t know what part of ‘it won’t happen’ people either don’t understand or refuse to believe. But I absolutely certain in my own mind that it will not happen. As far as I’m concerned, I will always do what I think is right to try to facilitate the House of Commons in reaching a view and that may be reaching a view on a motion or an amendment or the use of parliamentary time. And there are many uncertain scenarios that lie ahead and I can’t possibly set them all out here or anticipate what might happen.
“But my guiding principle is to facilitate the House. I come back to this very simple proposition: it’s not for me to take sides on the argument. But, on the principle, I’m very clear that Parliament must have its say and Parliament must have its way. And the idea we end up in a situation of a massive public outcry and lengthy legal cases at this most sensitive and challenging time for parliament is unbelievable. That cannot happen. And I feel sure wise council will prevail and it won’t.