Brexit battle: May faces fight with Bercow as Speaker warns he will call ‘toxic’ votes | UK | News

The Speaker said “nothing is too toxic” for Parliament to debate and acknowledged that MPs were concerned about the issues of citizens’ rights, “economic arrangements” and the use of so-called Henry VIII powers to allow ministers to amend laws without full scrutiny.

Mr Bercow also appeared to warn the Prime Minister that Commons votes needed to be taken seriously after the the Conservatives chose not to contest Labour motions on Wednesday when faced with the prospect of defeat.

In an event at the Institute for Government, Mr Bercow said he would like Mrs May to face an hour-long grilling at Prime Minister’s Questions rather than the current session which is officially supposed to run for 30 minutes, although Mr Bercow admitted he allowed “injury time” to make up for interruptions from rowdy behaviour.

He called for a “basic level of human respect” among politicians, and hit out at the “quite extraordinary” reported comments by George Osborne about wanting Theresa May “chopped up” in his freezer.

He also hit out at the “patently absurd” size of the House of Lords, arguing it could be halved.

Without a Commons majority for her party, Mrs May is vulnerable to rebellions over amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Speaker will make the final choice of amendments selected for debates and votes at the crucial report stage of the legislation.

Stressing his duty to the Commons and the wider public, Mr Bercow said: “I have not shown myself reluctant over the years to select amendments for debate and vote which may not be for the convenience of the executive.”

He added: “Nothing is too toxic for Parliament to consider.”

Mr Bercow, who has previously admitted backing Remain, hinted at concerns over David Cameron’s reasons for calling the EU referendum, but said the former prime minister did the “honourable” thing by quitting after he lost the public vote.

A referendum on EU membership could have been justified because as a way of settling the issue because all the main parties backed staying in the bloc, a general election was not the way to settle the matter, he said.

“I leave you to judge whether this referendum was called on that basis, and some of you may think it was, others of you may think it was called as a means by which to facilitate effective party management or the crowding out of another political force,” he said.

“The former argument for a referendum is compelling, the latter argument less so.”

Tory sources have indicated that given the “pretty…

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