The new President of the European Parliament confirmed he has entered into talks with his British counterpart Speaker John Bercow on how to prevent the UK fully leaving the European Union, a move which has outraged prominent Brexiteers.
Speaking to the Parliament plenary session on Wednesday, the newly selected President of the European Parliament David Sassoli revealed that as well as meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday in London, he had also engaged in apparently secret talks with the notoriously anti-Brexit speaker of the Commons, John Bercow. Far from being a simple meeting of equivalent role-holders from two Parliaments, the President’s comments made clear the two men had come to agreement on working together to stop a full Brexit — what he called a “chaotic exit”.
Sassoli told the chamber: “…This morning I also had a fruitful discussion with speaker Bercow in which I set out my view that any request by British institutions of an extension of prorogation of Parliament should allow the British people to give their views, be it in a referendum or a general election. Speaker Bercow and I were very much on the same wavelength regarding the importance of our respective Parliaments in managing Brexit.
📺 | @EP_President confirms he's in discussions with our outgoing, Remain-biased Commons Speaker in a bid to avoid a clean break Brexit on October 31. Bercow representing Britain without any mandate whatsoever. Disgraceful! pic.twitter.com/sXHNlEElXB
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) October 9, 2019
“We share an awareness that a chaotic exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union would work to the detriment of citizens on both sides, I do trust that no deal can be avoided at the end of the day. The European Union nonetheless has adopted all the necessary measures to prepare for the consequences should it occur.”
Brexit leader Nigel Farage signalled his fury at this development, writing: “Sassoli confirms a meeting with John Bercow in which they agreed to work to prevent a clean break Brexit. What right does the Speaker have to do this? Disgraceful!”
Mr Farage’s comments were followed up by Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice who questioned whether Sassoli even had the authority to enter into such talks, and by MEP Belinda de Lucy who directed her scorn directly at the chair in the session. She said: “Let me make this very clear Mr Sassoli, you have no right to go and speak with the UK Speaker and have conversations that are directly interfering into our domestic politics. It exposes your intentions to intervene at all levels to stop Brexit. It is immoral; shame on you.”
John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons who as a convention of the house is allowed to retain his seat in parliament without actually having to fight any elections, has emerged since the 2016 Brexit referendum from his proper position as a neutral arbiter of Parliamentary business to a central figure in the anti-Brexit resistance. Such is his respect among anti-Brexit activists, he was last week named as a potential caretaker Prime Minister in an anti-Brexit coalition government, should that faction succeed in bringing down the Boris Johnson government.