Prime Minister's Update

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:44 pm on 25th September 2019.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee 6:44 pm, 25th September 2019

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I did not say to the Prime Minister that the point of order related to his conduct or behaviour; I did not know what the point of order was going to be. I said to the Prime Minister that the point of order related to the matters with which we had just been dealing; in other words, in keeping with the approach that I adopted in respect of points of order following earlier statements—points of order that came from hon. or right hon. Members on both sides of the House—I was happy to take them after the statements to which they related. I suggested that the Prime Minister might wish to stay. He indicated initially that he was minded to do so, but he then decided that he wished to leave the Chamber. He has been here since 6.30; he was here for three hours and 11 minutes, and he has chosen to leave.

What I would like to say to the shadow Chancellor and to other colleagues is that I have been in the Chair since 11.30 and will remain for the remainder of the proceedings. Therefore, I have inevitably heard everything that has been said on this and other matters, and I think the fairest thing I can say is that I have heard the Prime Minister say explicitly that we will always obey the law, we will abide by the law and we will adhere to the law. He has said that. Equally, I did hear the answer that he gave earlier. I think his words related to the submission of a request for an extension, and he indicated that he would not be minded to do so. I heard the full question and I heard the full answer, and I think the right and proper thing to say, at this point, is that colleagues—hon. and right hon. Members—should study the record and form their own assessment of it. I have, of course, myself said, as anybody would expect any citizen to say, any parliamentarian to say or any Speaker to say, that adherence to the law must, of course, be non-negotiable.

I do not think that I need to add to that tonight. Let us reflect on these matters, let us remain calm and let us assess the record. Just as I said, good-naturedly, I think, to the Prime Minister some minutes ago in a slightly different context that repetition was not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons—never has been, is not and will not be—there will be further opportunities for Members to raise these matters, including this very particular point, in subsequent days. This Chair will always facilitate the fullest and most unsparing scrutiny of the Executive branch, because that is the responsibility of the Speaker—not to be a craven lickspittle of the Executive branch, but to facilitate the fullest and most unsparing scrutiny of it. That is my job, and come hell or high water I will continue to discharge it. Non-negotiable—end of subject.