A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons

Unlike the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, given the essential place and nature of debate in the Commons, is expected (procedurally at any rate) to be a kind of neutral referee in recurrently adversarial situations.

The Speaker of the House of Commons does not have to come from the party that wins the general election– speakers are elected by the entire House, and any MP can be a candidate in this election.

Historically, though no longer, the Speaker’s position has sometimes been deadly for its holders:  seven Speakers of the Commons have been executed.

Incidentally, some of my American friends, upon being informed by me of this piece of arcane Ukanian parliamentary history, and knowing that the US retains the death penalty, say this would be a fate befitting the recently retired Republican Speaker of the US House of Representatives, the widely-denounced hypocrite Paul Ryan, and several others as well.

John Crace, the superb parliamentary sketch-writer of The Guardian, said in a recent piece that many Tory Brexiteers would have the current Speaker, John Bercow (a Tory who has been in this position since 2009), meet the same fate as his seven executed predecessors.

Given that their role is to enforce routine rules of procedure, Speakers of the Commons rarely have the chance to make momentous interventions.

In the last Commons debate on prime minister’s Theresa May’s nebulous Brexit deal,…

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