He had chosen an iconic date to bow out. 31 October 2019 was to mark the last day of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union and also the last of its ten years in the speaker, the chair of debates in the House of Commons. Brexit did not happen at all, but John Bercow, 56, left the Parliament. He even announced his complete withdrawal from politics.
Read alsoJohn Bercow, Brexit Speaker Hammer
From now on, he wishes "Recalibrate (his) life, (s)" have fun and do something good ". But before going back to the tennis courts, "A true passion, not a hobby, a passion of which my absolute hero is Roger Federer", the former speaker chose to give up the restraint that his function imposed on him and delivered some truths … to the international press gathered by the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in London. To the chagrin of the British press, deeply offended at being ignored. John Bercow, who is preparing a book to be published in Spring 2020, has so far refused to interview the national media. Usually, the opposite is true, British politicians are generally reluctant to express themselves in the foreign press. Some have already turned down interview requests with a bland explanation that "Sorry, but your readers do not vote for me."
"I do not have to remain impartial anymore"
Relaxed, in a dark blue suit with one of his countless colorful ties, John Bercow willingly lends himself to the circus of his now famous "Orderrrrr, orderrrrr". He even goes so far as to decline the nuances. There is the "Order" enthusiastic, the "Oooorddderrr" annoyed and furious.
But beyond folklore, he officially announces for the first time his position with regard to Brexit. "I think Brexit is the UK's biggest mistake in foreign policy since the Second World War", he explains in response to a question. "I am no longer a speaker, I no longer have to remain impartial. So, if you ask me if I think Brexit is good for our overall position, my honest answer is no, I do not think so. " "We belong to a world of power blocs and trading blocs and my feeling is that it's better to be part of it than not."
The Eurosceptic British press, frustrated and jealous of what he said to others, immediately fell on him, accusing him of impartiality throughout his term in Parliament. What he categorically refutes:"I have always remained impartial in my chair, but I was not impartial when it came to defending Parliament." As for the amendments he has selected for votes and which have sometimes put a spoke in the wheels of the government, he recalls, stinging: "I selected them when they had a large number of signatures from all parties and seemed to me to justify a debate."
He also pointed out that a government with a majority would have adopted a Brexit agreement earlier. "My role was not to protect the government from the realities of arithmetic in Parliament." Which eventually voted in favor of the agreement brought back from Brussels by Boris Johnson, but against a thorough examination in three short days, as desired by the government. "Look, it's better to do things well than fast, so as a Parliament, we had every right to continue to debate the issue."
Ten years habits
As for Boris Johnson's decision to suspend (extend) Parliament in September, "I immediately said that it was a constitutional contempt, a lack of respect and not a normal extension". It is no longer at the heart of the Commons, but the emphasis, vocabulary and intonations are always there – you do not lose so quickly the habits of ten years. He pauses, looks at the room and adds, weighing on each word: "The important thing was not my opinion, but that of the Supreme Court. The result was 11 to 0, I repeat 11 to 0 … 11 to 0 (The eleven judges voted unanimously to declare the prorogation of the parliament illegal, ed.)
"I'm not very important, but Speaker's role is very important and I have done my best to promote and establish the role of Parliament." And to those, and there are many, who feel that the British Parliament has been dysfunctional in the last three years, it says: "Parliament is divided and remains divided, but as such it perfectly represents the country which is itself deeply divided. This divided Parliament was elected in 2017, one year after the referendum on Brexit. "
Sonia Delesalle-Stolper Correspondent in London
. (tagsToTranslate) Referendum on