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by Alain Tolhurst
13 September 2019
Speaker vows to use 'procedural creativity' to stop Johnson ignoring law blocking no-deal Brexit

Image credit: Parliament TV

Speaker vows to use 'procedural creativity' to stop Johnson ignoring law blocking no-deal Brexit

John Bercow has vowed to use “procedural creativity” to prevent Boris Johnson from ignoring the law blocking a no-deal Brexit.

The House of Commons Speaker compared the Prime Minister’s vow not to request the Article 50 extension demanded by the legislation to "robbing a bank".

Johnson has said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than ask for a delay to the UK's departure, while ministers have suggested they will “test” the law out in the courts before enacting it.

But in a lecture on Thursday night, Bercow said that was "frankly astonishing".

He said: "Not obeying the law must surely be a non-starter. Period.

"It would be the most terrible example to set to the rest of society.

"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 as one could possibly excuse robbing a bank on the basis that the cash stolen would be donated to a charitable cause immediately afterwards.

“We should not be in this linguistic territory. End of subject.”

Bercow, who announced he is standing down on October 31, said if the government looks like it will disobey the extension act, Parliament "would want to cut off such a possibility and do so forcefully”.

He said: "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.”

Delivering the annual Bingham lecture in London, the MP for Buckingham added: “The only form of Brexit we will have, whenever that might be, will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.

"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."

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