31 October 2019 | UK NEWS
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has today stepped down from his role as the House adjourned at 5:30pm, marking the end of his ten-year stint in the Speaker’s Chair. Mr Bercow will also be standing down as MP for Buckingham and will not contest any seat in the forthcoming General Election on 12 December. His final moments in the Chair can be watched here:
As Parliament does not traditionally sit on Fridays, the Commons will reconvene again on Monday to elect a new Speaker. The current favourite is Sir Lindsay Hoyle, with the Evening Standard quoting odds as short as 2/5 for him to succeed Mr Bercow.
Tributes, albeit some of a notably capricious nature, were made to Mr Bercow during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, with most reflecting the forthright nature in which this Speaker has both modernised the proceedings of the House of Commons and sought ways of enhancing the ability of backbench MPs to influence proceedings in the House.
In particular, there was a row earlier today between the Speaker and Andrew Bridgen, an ERG MP who has never held Mr Bercow in particularly high esteem. This can be seen here:
Elsewhere today, the Labour Party has launched its election campaign, with Jeremy Corbyn telling Andrew Marr that Labour would “immediately purchase 8,000 properties across the country to give immediate housing to those people that are currently homeless”. He also said that Labour would “give Local Authorities the power to take over deliberately kept empty properties, because there is something grossly insulting about the idea you would build some luxury block and deliberately keep it empty. Surely we have to have a social objective and a social priority in our society?”
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has given an interview to Nigel Farage on LBC, in which he said that Jeremy Corbyn would be “so bad” for the UK, adding that “he’d take you into such bad places”. However, he praised the incumbent Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, saying that the latter was a “fantastic man” and that the two had a “great friendship”, seeing eye-to-eye on many issues. The President added that, in his view, Mr Johnson was “the exact right guy for the times”.
However, Mr Trump also suggested that “certain aspects” of the Prime Minister’s newly-negotiated Withdrawal Agreement could impede the ability of the UK and the US to secure a Free Trade Agreement. He lamented this on the grounds that, in terms of trade, the two countries could “do many times the numbers than we’re doing right now and certainly much bigger numbers than you are doing under the European Union.” The Labour Leader responded on Twitter, saying that the US President was “trying to interfere in Britain’s election”.
Tonight sees the launch of General Election campaigns on a day on which Britain had assumed, for the past 6 months, that it was due to leave the European Union. It also sees the departure of a highly controversial Speaker, whose reforms in the House of Commons have attracted both praise and ire in seemingly equal measure, particularly in the years since the EU referendum result. Perhaps this year, even more than most, Halloween will be a truly auspicious night.
We will bring you further election updates as they develop.