MPs have the “right” to try and delay or even block Brexit when they are given a vote on the UK’s withdrawal deal, John Bercow has said.
The Commons Speaker said it is an “opinion, rather than a constitutional fact” among hard-line Brexiteers that MPs have a “responsibility” to agree to whatever deal may be struck between the Government and the EU.
He said some MPs may want to oppose the deal if they are “not satisfied” with its contents and they are perfectly entitled to try and persuade their parliamentary colleagues to do the same.
His remarks are likely to infuriate Eurosceptics who believe it is the job of parliament to deliver on the outcome of last year’s EU referendum.
The Commons Speaker gave a speech and Q&A to the Hansard Society on Wednesday evening and he reportedly said: “There are actors on the stage who are very strongly supportive of Brexit who will tend to say the absolute responsibility now of members of parliament is simply to vote this through.
“But that is an opinion, rather than a constitutional fact.
“My sense is there will be a lot of people in parliament who will want to be able to vote on the deal.
“There will be some members of parliament who say ‘I want to be able at the end of all this if I’m not satisfied, to say No, to try to persuade other members of parliament to say No, and to hope that No might delay Brexit or prevent Brexit’.
“Do they have a right to argue that point of view? They absolutely do.”
Mr Bercow came under pressure in February this year after it emerged he told a group of students he voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum.
The admission prompted fury among Mr Bercow’s critics because parliamentary rules dictate that the Commons Speaker “must remain politically impartial at all times”.
Mr Bercow also told the Hansard Society that he has a more cordial relationship with Theresa May than he had with her predecessor David Cameron.
Politico reported that he said: “I don’t think it’s a disclosure of state secrets to say that I’ve got better relations with Prime Minister May than I had with Prime Minister Cameron.
“I always got on well with David when we were tennis partners together in the House of Commons tennis team — but things seem to have regressed somewhat after that.
“I get on much better with Theresa May. I do find her extremely courteous and decent and dignified.
“Our personal relations are very good — just as my personal relations with Jeremy Corbyn are very good. Jeremy and I have one particular thing in common, which is we are both fanatical Arsenal fans.”