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Tue, 14 July 2020

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John Bercow: Brexit is 'biggest foreign policy mistake' since Second World War

John Bercow: Brexit is 'biggest foreign policy mistake' since Second World War
2 min read

John Bercow has branded Brexit the "biggest foreign policy mistake" since the Second World War in an explosive intervention just days after stepping down as Speaker.

He said he thought it would be better for the UK to remain in the EU "power bloc".

The comments are likely to provoke fury from Conservative Brexiteers who repeatedly clashed with Mr Bercow in the Commons over his rulings, accusing him of giving pro-Remain MPs the opportunity to scupper Brexit.

In his first comments since quitting as Speaker and an MP, Mr Bercow told the Foreign Press Association:"I'm no longer the Speaker, so I don't have to remain impartial now. 

"But if you ask me, honestly, 'do I think that Brexit is good for our global standing?', my honest answer is 'no, I don't'. 

"I think that Brexit is the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period. That is my honest view."

In comments first reported by La Repubblica, Mr Bercow added: "I respect Prime Minister Boris Johnson but Brexit doesn't help us. It's better to be part of the [EU] power bloc."

But the former Conservative MP hit back at suggestions he showed bias during his decade in the role, saying "it was Parliament" which was responsbile for the Brexit delay, "not me".

He added: “I respect the Prime Minister and he has the right to do what he did also in the House of Commons. 

"But my job was to stand up for the rights of the House of Commons. No apology for championing the rights of parliament.”

Mr Bercow's impartiality was repeatedly called in to question during the campaign to find his replacement, with his former deputy Eleanor Laing accusing him of "loading the dice" over Brexit.

Meanwhile, his successor Lindsay Hoyle pledged in his first speech as Speaker to "once again" make Parliament the "envy" of the world.

"We've got to make sure that tarnish is polished away," he told MPs.

"That the respect and tolerance that we expect from everyone who works in here will be shown and will keep that in order."

He added: "I want to hopefully show that the experience that I've shown previously will continue, as I promised I will be neutral, I will be transparent. 

"I think this House, we can do more to ensure that that transparency continues."