John Bercow, the speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, announced on Monday that he would step down within weeks. The man at the centre of more than three years of fiery Brexit debates in Parliament, Mr. Bercow has been a controversial figure — much criticised by supporters of Brexit and praised by its opponents.
Mr. Bercow has served as speaker of Parliament’s lower chamber for 10 years.
“If the house votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as speaker and MP will end when this Parliament ends,” Mr. Bercow told the chamber.
“If the house does not so vote, I have concluded that the least disruve and most democratic course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business on Thursday, October 31.”
Mr. Bercow, 56, is best known for presiding over debates, bellowing “Order! Order!” at unruly MPs and admonishing lawmakers who displease him.
Ever since the 2016 EU membership referendum, he has been influential in defending the right of Parliament to have its say on the tortuous Brexit process.
He branded Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament, which runs from the end of Monday’s debates until October 14, as a “constitutional outrage” designed to “stop Parliament debating Brexit”.
Mr. Bercow was first elected as an MP for the centre-right Conservative Party, but he was elevated to the Speaker’s position in 2009.
However, his interventions in Brexit debates have prompted accusations from his former colleagues that he is biased both against the Conservative government and Brexit itself.