Editor's note

Even by recent standards, the scenes in the House of Commons this week have been chaotic – and the house only sat for one day. MPs booed and cried shame as the government shut down parliament for five weeks ahead of the crunch Brexit date of October 31.

Speaker John Bercow presided over the shouting, singing and sign waving in characteristically colourful form. When one MP tried to mansplain parliamentary procedure, he told him he didn’t “give a flying flamingo” about his views.

But Bercow had, earlier in the day, announced his intention to stand down in the next few weeks. No more theatrical cries of “order!”, no more jazzy ties, no more withering comments about slouching parliamentarians.

Matthew Flinders believes this speaker in particular has transformed the role, largely because of his commitment to defending the house from executive overreach. And it’s his mission to stand up for the UK’s elective representatives that probably lies behind his decision to exit the chamber at this particular moment in time.

Laura Hood

Politics Editor, Assistant Editor

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