Keir Starmer discusses Brexit and a second referendum
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John Bercow admitted that he is “a show off” who enjoys “the sound of my own voice”. The ex-Speaker of the House of Commons also said he helped bring an EU referendum on to the political agenda in 2013 – a claim likely to confound pro-Brexit MPs. The former Tory MP for Buckingham enjoyed a bad tempered and fractious relationship with Brexiteers in his own party.
He was often accused of being biased towards Remainers and enraged the Conservative governments of Prime Minister Theresa May and her successor, Boris Johnson, by giving backbench legislators chances to block proposed legislation about the UK’s exit from the EU.
However, in an an interview with with Camilla Tominey on GB News, Mr Bercow insisted that he had been unscrupulously fair to Brexiteers throughout his time as Speaker.
As proof of his fairness to pro-Brexit Tories, he referenced the Queen’s Speech in 2013, saying that he had allowed Conservative MP John Barron to table an amendment demanding an EU referendum.
The former Tory MP explained: “That was an amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for a national referendum on British membership of the European Union. I selected that amendment. If I was this unfair, arch-Remainer, frustrate the Brexiteers at all costs character, which you try to typecasts me, I wouldn’t have selected it.
“Why did I do it? I did it because I thought it was the fair thing to do. So, I was fair to the Brexiteers when they were a strong, but minority force within the governing party, I did the same to the Remainers after 2016.”
The former Speaker caused huge outrage after being accused of promoting an anti-Brexit sticker on his car in 2019. The sticker, which was widely exhibited by Remainers, read “b******s to Brexit”.
Pro-Brexit Tories raised the issue during a stormy parliamentary debate in January 2019.
Brexiteer Tory Adam Holloway made a point of order and said: “We’ve all noticed in recent months a sticker in your car, making derogatory comments about Brexit.”
Jabbing his finger at the Speaker’s chair, he demanded to know: “Have you driven that car with the sticker there?” Mr Bercow replied that the sticker he referred to was attached to the windscreen of his wife’s car and was not his.
The former Tory MP told the Camilla Tominey Show that he had not changed his personal views about Brexit. He said that leaving the EU had been the “most colossal foreign policy failure of the post-war period”.
Mr Bercow also agreed with his biographer, Bobby Friedman, who said that he “always always loved being the centre of attention”.
He said: “Yes, I am a bit of a show-off, I think most politicians are to a degree, and if you say ‘ah do you like the sound of your own voice’, I plead guilty to that.”
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Mr Bercow caused further consternation in June 2021, when he suddenly announced he was joining the Labour Party.
In an interview with the Observer, he claimed the Tories under Boris Johnson had become “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic.”
He added: “The conclusion I have reached is that this government needs to be replaced.
“The reality is that the Labour Party is the only vehicle that can achieve that objective.”
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