September 13, 2019 / 8:25 AM / 2 days ago

Bercow promises 'creativity' to ensure PM Johnson obeys Brexit delay law

FILE PHOTO: Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow speaks in Parliament in London, Britain, September 9, 2019, in this still image taken from Parliament TV footage. Parliament TV via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - House of Commons speaker John Bercow has promised to use “creativity” to ensure Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not ignore a law which would prevent him taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal at the end of October.

Johnson has vowed to deliver Brexit on Oct. 31, with or without a deal, and has said he will not request a delay to that deadline, despite the legal requirement to do so if he has not secured parliament’s approval for an exit agreement.

Bercow, who has been accused by the government of breaking parliamentary rules to help lawmakers try to force a delay to Britain’s exit from the EU, said it was “astonishing” that anyone was entertaining the idea of not obeying the law.

“If we come close to being there I would imagine that parliament would want to cut off such a possibility and to do so forcefully,” he said in a lecture to lawyers late on Thursday.

“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.”

Bercow, who said this week he would step down as speaker of parliament’s lower chamber next month after more than 10 years in the role, said Brexit would only come in a form endorsed by lawmakers. He said that not following the law would set a terrible example to society.

“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, than one could possibly excuse robbing a bank on the basis that the cash stolen would be donated to a charitable cause immediately afterwards,” he said.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Michael Holden

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