A taxi driver’s son personifies the UK’s constitutional crisis

, by Juuso Järviniemi

A taxi driver's son personifies the UK's constitutional crisis
John Bercow. Photo: Julian Mason / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

For the past years, Brits have squabbled endlessly over the country’s departure from the EU, but British politicians are also embroiled in a more abstract battle. When MPs gather at dusk for yet another nail-biting vote, more often than not the issue at stake is whether it’s the Parliament or the government who truly holds power in the country.

Though the Parliament is now suspended for five weeks, defenders of the Parliament’s rights are winning. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he’d rather lie dead in a ditch than ask the EU for a new Brexit delay. Despite this, last week MPs managed to rush through a bill that orders Johnson to request an extension.

When the Parliament cornered Johnson, it relied on the Speaker John Bercow. Had the Speaker’s chair been occupied by someone else, a law proposal made by individual MPs would hardly have been granted multiple days in the chamber’s packed schedule.

When an ancient parliament is reviewing its take on the separation of powers, we’re talking complex issues. However, history’s great conflicts tend to be personified in individual leaders.

The main character of the UK’s constitutional crisis is Bercow: A taxi driver’s son whose roots lie in Romania, famous for his colourful ties and ear-shattering “Ordeeeer!” yell. At a time when the Left criticises the Parliament for being a bastion of aristocratic privilege and the Right has launched an offensive against immigration from Eastern Europe, one can hardly think of a more fitting adjudicator than John Bercow.

After a ten-year career, Bercow announced yesterday that he would leave his post at the end of October. Among the UK government, many are already looking forward to Bercow’s departure: yesterday, British media reported on a senior government source calling him a “nauseating wanker”.

Despite this, Bercow’s legacy will live on. The short, 168 cm tall man has risen to a great stature in the previously insignificant role of Speaker. Because the UK has no written constitution, decision-makers dig through precedent from as far as centuries ago whenever they’re faced with a dilemma. No-one may yet guess how long into the future legal experts will be studying the decisions Bercow has made in the past weeks and months.

When the Parliament finished its last pre-suspension session at half past one last night, the last words were uttered by John Bercow who in his characteristic manner responded to heckling by an MP. Before stepping down from his chair, his last words were “I couldn’t give a flying flamingo what your view is”.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man: In the UK, a historic moment and a great personality found each other. Thanks to its bearer, the Speaker’s black robe has turned into a hero’s cape.

Your comments

Warning, your message will only be displayed after it has been checked and approved.

Who are you?

To show your avatar with your message, register it first on gravatar.com (free et painless) and don’t forget to indicate your Email addresse here.

Enter your comment here

This form accepts SPIP shortcuts {{bold}} {italic} -*list [text->url] <quote> <code> and HTML code <q> <del> <ins>. To create paragraphs, just leave empty lines.

Follow the comments: RSS 2.0 | Atom