This week the House of Commons commission will meet to discuss its response to the Cox report on bullying and harassment at Westminster. The report concludes that a number of officials, including one John Bercow, could need to stand down in order for real change to come about. Only there is very little chance of that happening as Labour MPs have rallied around the Speaker on the grounds that they think Bercow will be sympathetic to their cause on important Brexit decisions. As Margaret Beckett put it, Brexit ‘trumps’ bullying.
So, what role will Bercow play in the coming months? If no deal has been reached by 21 January, it has been thought that who ever is in the Speaker’s chair would get to decide whether MPs could amend the Brexit motion. The expectation is Bercow – who has a ‘bollocks to Brexit’ sticker on his car – would be sympathetic to the idea.
But there’s one other role the Speaker could play. If the vote on Theresa May’s deal was tied, it could fall to the Speaker to place the casting vote – as employed by Betty Boothroyd in a vote on the Maastricht treaty (that was later cancelled out after a counting error emerged). Parliamentary convention says that a Speaker shouldn’t create a majority for something that does not have a majority.
Imagine Speaker Bercow having to make a casting vote on EU related legislation now. This stuff happens- here are the epic scenes of Betty Boothroyd making a casting vote during Maastricht. Also notice the 2:55am time stamp. pic.twitter.com/Hwh1oRGSgd
— Jack Evans (@jackcevans) October 16, 2018
What ever would Bercow choose?