John Bercow as PM? Labour slams ‘fantasy football’ plan as Lib Dems suggest speaker to head ‘unity’ government

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A proposal to install Commons Speaker John Bercow as prime minister in a caretaker government of “national unity” has been slapped down by the Labour Party as “fantasy football” as the Brexit deadline looms.

In their quest to avert a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat have apparently floated the idea of Bercow in the role of PM if Boris Johnson’s government were to crumble after a vote of no confidence.

Bercow’s cabinet would be formed with “clean skin” MPs who are not standing in the next elections and would therefore not be seen as too partisan, according to a report in the Times. 

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But the notion was met with little enthusiasm from Labour, with shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti slamming it as “fantasy football” and unrealistic. “I think it’s very unlikely. I really really do I think what we need to concentrate on is getting no-deal ruled out…and then to head for a general election,” Chakrabarti told the BBC’s Andrew Marr.

Chakrabarti reiterated Labour’s desire for an election “this side of Christmas” — but only after Johnson complies with the Benn Act, which requires him to seek another Brexit delay from Brussels if no deal is struck by October 19 and means he could not pursue a ‘no deal’ exit without the approval of parliament. 

Johnson has dubbed the Benn Act the “surrender act” and commented that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask for a new Brexit extension, but has also said his government will comply with the law, though it’s unclear what exactly his plan is. A report in the Sunday Telegraph suggested the PM could use the UK’s veto to scupper the EU’s seven-year budget or even send Brexit superfan Nigel Farage to Brussel’s as the UK’s next EU commissioner.

Labour’s reaction to the suggestion of Bercow for the top job highlights the disagreements within the opposition over who would be best placed to lead a government that would delay Brexit. Corbyn has asked the Lib Dems and other opposition parties to support him in leading a “time-limited” government.

The idea of Bercow as PM is also unlikely to go over well with Brexit fans, who have typically seen the Speaker as biased in favor of MPs who favor remaining in the EU or accepting a deal from Brussels which they regard as less than ideal.

Bercow revealed last month that he planned to step down after a 10-year reign as speaker on October 31, the same day Britain is due to leave the EU.

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