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Goodbye to Bercow: UK speaker steps down after 10 years

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on October 30, 2019 - Duration: 02:30s

Goodbye to Bercow: UK speaker steps down after 10 years

A look back on Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow's colorful career as he bids farewell to the post after ten years in the job.

Lauren Anthony reports.

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Goodbye to Bercow: UK speaker steps down after 10 years

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, JOHN BERCOW, SAYING: ''Order, order.

Very rude for members.

Order!

Order!" UK Speaker John Bercow's voice is instantly recognizable in the House of Commons.

But it won't be heard there for much longer.

He bid a tearful farewell on Wednesday (October 30) - as he stepped down after 10 years in the job.

Having refereed hours of cantankerous debate, he has earned global notoriety for his thundering demands for "Order", and the ruthless chastising of lawmakers to keep them in line.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, JOHN BERCOW, SAYING: "Don't gesticulate, don't rant, spare us the theatrics.

Behave yourself!

Be a good boy young man, be a good boy!" (SOUNDBITE) (English) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, JOHN BERCOW, SAYING: "There is an elaborate combination of finger-wagging and head-shaking going on which may be personally therapeutic but is institutionally disadvantageous." This neutral role exists to ensure a level of decorum in debate.

But for Bercow the job took on a whole new meaning entirely - no thanks to Brexit - when current Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May failed to get their policies past parliament.

With no written constitution - and a parliament ruled by convention - it was down to Bercow to interpret the rules that would usually give the government control over parliamentary agenda.

Something many of his colleagues were unhappy about.

Critics have accused him of frustrating Brexit, by, for example, allowing changes to government motions.

He has also shifted to a more socially liberal position over the years.

And has previously said that he voted "Remain" in the 2016 EU referendum.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, JOHN BERCOW, SAYING: "The question is that the amendment be made.

As many of that opinion say "aye" (LAWMAKERS SHOUT "AYE").

Of the contrary "no" (LAWMAKERS SHOUT "NO").

Division, clear the lobby!" Even with Brexit aside, his career hasn't always been plain sailing.

Bercow has survived outcry over expense claims - and allegations of bullying from former staff members - accusations which he has denied.

But he has also gained a reputation as a reformer and a modernizer during his tenure.

Having abandoned traditional speakers robes, and overseen a change in parliament sitting hours to make them more family-friendly.

And he has been known to stand up against sexism in the Commons.

Next week, the house will elect a new Speaker.

One who will likely be less bombastic than the last.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, JOHN BERCOW, SAYING: "Order, order..." LAWMAKER TIM LOUGHTON SAYING: "I have Strepsils."

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