It appears that I am not the only one taken by John Bercow, the speaker of the British House of Commons. As a result of the intense attention paid to the parliamentary maneuverings over Brexit, he has apparently become a cult figure in Europe and Der Spiegel interviewed him, where I was relieved to hear him saying that the rumor of him stepping down this summer was unfounded.
DER SPIEGEL: Are you aware of the fact that you have almost become a cult figure in parts of Europe?
Bercow: It’s not about me. It’s about the House. That’s the more important thing. Because of the spotlight caused by Brexit, we’re not debating something just of interest to Brits, but across Europe and beyond. These things have attracted more interest.
DER SPIEGEL: It’s your call “Order! Orderrr!” that has gone viral.
Bercow: I apparently say it in a way that amuses some people. I suspect it’s some interest in what is regarded as English eccentricity. Though I’m not a very typical Englishperson, I’m actually of partly Central European origin. My father was the son of migrants from Romania. And my mother, who’s still with us, is a Yorkshire Methodist. So, you know, I’m not a typical Brit. The name Bercow was originally Berkowitz. But some people seem to regard me as a typical Englishman.
DER SPIEGEL: You announced last year that you will step down in summer 2019. Is that still valid?
Bercow: I didn’t say that in fact. It was quite widely suggested that I had made some announcement, but in fact, I never did.
DER SPIEGEL: So, you will stay for the second phase of the Brexit negotiations?
Bercow: I restood in 2017 in my constituency with the support of all of the party leaders. And now is certainly not a time to step down. We are in the middle of an important process. Obviously, I’m much nearer to the end of my tenure than to its beginning. But I think, if I’ve got an announcement to make, I would not make it to DER SPIEGEL but to the House of Commons.
John Oliver has a compilation of Bercow’s parliamentary put-downs.