UK Speaker to stand down before Brexit
UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow says he will step down by the end of October after a decade in the job.
Bercow told lawmakers that if parliament votes today (local time) in favour of an early election, he will quit before the campaign. If they don't he will quit on October 31 — the day Britain is due to leave the European Union.
He says he will quit both as speaker and as a member of Parliament.
Bercow has angered the Conservative government by repeatedly allowing lawmakers to seize control of Parliament's agenda to steer the course of Brexit. He says he is simply fulfilling his role of letting Parliament have its say.
The Conservatives had said they would run against Bercow in the next national election, breaking a convention that the speaker be elected unopposed.
Bercow's announcement was met with applause and a standing ovation by some MPs, and was followed by tributes to his record as speaker.
It comes hours before Parliament is set to be suspended at the end of business on Monday until the middle of next month.
A bill to prevent Britain leaving the European Union on October 31 without a deal by forcing Prime Minister Boris Johnson to seek a delay is due to become law on Monday local time but the spokesman said the government would not seek any extension to the deadline.
The prime minister will not sanction any more pointless delays to Brexit, his spokesman said, and lawmakers should vote for a snap election which Johnson will call for later on Monday to resolve the issue.
However, that bid is set to be thwarted by opposition lawmakers who want to ensure he cannot take the UK out of the European Union without a divorce agreement.
With no majority in parliament, which is determined to prevent what many businesses fear would be a calamitous way to quit the EU, Johnson wants to hold an election to keep his promise of leaving by October 31, with or without an agreement.
He has said he would rather be "dead in a ditch" than request such an extension, to ask for an election on October 15.
He will put forward a motion in parliament on Monday to propose this, but it would require the support of two-thirds of lawmakers - and opposition parties have said they will not agree to an election until a 'no-deal' exit is ruled out.
It means that, three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, there is deep uncertainty about how the Brexit dilemma will play out what it will mean for the world's fifth-largest economy and its people and politics.
Johnson, in office for less than two months, has endured a torrid seven days in which he lost his majority in parliament, expelled 21 rebels from his Conservative Party and saw his own brother quit the government, torn between family loyalty and "the national interest".
On Saturday, his work and pensions minister suddenly resigned, saying the government was focusing 80 to 90 per cent of its work on 'no-deal' preparations rather than seeking a withdrawal agreement with the EU.
Johnson and other senior ministers say they are coming up with new proposals and that progress is being made in talks with the EU.
Finance minister Sajid Javid said Johnson would go to an EU summit on October 17 to try to secure that deal.
"He absolutely will not be asking for an extension in that meeting," Javid told the BBC.
One of the main sticking points has been disagreement over the Irish 'backstop' - an insurance policy to prevent the return of visible checks on the border between the Irish Republic and the British province of Northern Ireland.
Johnson goes to Dublin on Monday for talks with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, but expectations are low.
The bill requiring Johnson to seek a Brexit extension is due to become law on Monday when it receives the assent of Queen Elizabeth.
Foreign minister Dominic Raab said the government would "test to the limit" what the law would require ministers to do, and the Daily Telegraph reported that his office was exploring how it could sabotage any extension request by making it clear to the EU that it did not want a delay.
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