Commons speaker John Bercow has compared the prospect of Boris Johnson ignoring a law to block a no-deal Brexit to “robbing a bank”.
In a speech on Thursday night Bercow – who this week revealed his plans to step down as speaker later this month – said it was “frankly astonishing” that anyone had even thought about ignoring the legislation.
“It would be the most terrible example to set to the rest of society,” he said in a lecture at the Bingham Centre.
“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,” Bercow added. “End of subject.”
His comments come amid fears that Johnson could ignore the law opposition MPs – and 21 rebel ex-Tories – successfully pushed through parliament last week which states the PM must ask Brussels for an extension to the Brexit deadline.
Ministers would “look very carefully” at its “interpretation” of the legislation, he told the BBC.
But Bercow said parliament would act “forcefully” if such a prospect came close to becoming a reality.
“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 rulebook nor the ticking of the clock will stop it doing so.”
He 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.”