The Express claims:

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said if Mr Johnson will not send the letter to the EU to request a delay, he would.

Did Bercow actually say this?

1 Answer 1


The relevant point was this "point of order" after the debate and vote on Saturday 19 October 2019, which can be viewed on Parliamentlive.tv:

Joanna Cherry Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I thank you for your indulgence. Viewers in Scotland are accustomed to the sight of the Tory Benches emptying when Members of Parliament who represent Scottish seats get up, and I very much look forward to seeing that in the SNP’s party political broadcasts in the soon-to-come general election.

My point is an important one. The Prime Minister has failed to secure approval of the withdrawal agreement today under the terms of the Benn Act. Under the law of the land he should be retreating to No.10 to pen a letter to the European Union, both under that Act and the undertakings—as so described by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union—that he gave to the Scottish Court. Fortunately, we are back in court on Monday morning. It will be possible then to secure the court’s assistance if the Prime Minister has flouted the law and the promises he gave to the court.

Mr Speaker, may I ask you this? Should Scotland’s supreme Court mandate you to sign the letter required by the Act on behalf of this Parliament, will you do so?

Mr Speaker I am grateful to the hon. and learned Lady. I have no expectation of being so asked. Moreover, I have no aspirations to the exalted status that would have been attained by a person so requested or directed by the court. The short answer to her is that if I were instructed by this House I would do as instructed, and if I were directed or instructed by a court I would do as directed. That is my instinctive reaction. I would, of course, seek further and better particulars. I would take advice, but I repeat that I have not been asked. I am not expecting to be asked and I am not looking to be asked, but I would do as I was required to do and I would have no hesitation in so doing.

So the answer is that the Speaker said he would send the letter if directed by the House of Commons or by a Court, but he did not expect this to happen

  • I got the impression from something I read that the court asking the Speaker to step in and get it done would be the expected procedure if the PM refuses to follow the law. Not sure what to search for to find a good source though.
    – JollyJoker
    Commented Oct 21, 2019 at 12:12
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – DevSolar
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 11:54
  • Deleted a lot of inappropriate comments. Please remember the Code of Conduct, and conduct yourselves appropriately.
    – Oddthinking
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 18:57

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