Anti-Brexit Former Speaker Slams Populism in Alternative Christmas Message

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: House of Commons John Bercow announces that the house will sit at 11:30 tomorrow morning following the Supreme Court ruling that the current suspension of parliament is unlawful one on September 24, 2019 in London, England. The court’s unanimous decision said that Prime Minister Boris …
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Self-professed Remainer and former speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has criticised populism in his Alternative Christmas Message, and said that adults should take cues from children on good behaviour.

Channel 4 has been broadcasting its Alternative Christmas Message since 1993, as a “distinctive alternative” to Queen Elizabeth’s broadcast to the nation every Christmas day.

Delivered by a different person each time, some years have seen heartfelt stories of survival and loss — such as that given in 2001 by Genelle Guzman, who was the last survivor to be rescued from the rubble of the World Trade Center and in which she described the strengthening of her Christian faith. Others have been overtly political and controversial, notably in 2008 when the message was delivered by the Islamist president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

This year, the progressive broadcaster’s decision to offer the slot to John Bercow comes after the former speaker came under heavy criticism for his apparent anti-Brexit bias whilst serving in the House. After his retirement, Mr Bercow said that he believed Brexit was “the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period” and admitted to facilitating stopping a no-deal Brexit in the previous parliament, when the lower house was dominated by Europhile lawmakers.

Speaking from his son’s school in London, John Bercow said that “of late, democracy has come in for a pounding”, and in defence of the parliamentary system that was, for over three years, at odds with the voice of the British people, he said: “All around the world populism and the promise of simple solutions to complex problems has taken hold with a vice-like grip.”

Blaming social media and newspapers for inflaming language and debate, Bercow, who has faced accusations of bullying in his time as speaker, claimed that “That mindset started to infect parliament, too. That is wrong. if democrats show no respect for each other, it just encourages anti-democrats. It’s high time we learnt to disagree agreeably.”

When relating that his best friend is a Brexiteer and that he is a Remainer, in an attempt at a joke, he said: “He thinks I’m wrong; I know he is.”

“Lots of people think that MPs have been behaving like children. I don’t agree,” he said. Continuing: “If you want to see an example of respectful debate, take a look at the UK youth parliament whose sittings I chaired every year for a decade. They spoke well, respecting one another, and behaved better than many political campaigners, two, three, and four times their age. Let’s take inspiration from young people. They are the future.”

The new speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle has said that Mr Bercow should receive a peerage as it is tradition. However, the Brexit-backing Conservative government is reportedly planning on elevating specialists and Brexiteers to balance out the Remainer-dominated House of Lords.


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