John Bercow has pledged to stay on as Speaker beyond his rumoured summer departure date – suggesting he may remain in post until Brexit is delivered.
The controversial Commons figure said it is not “sensible to vacate the chair” while there are “momentous events” taking place and “great issues” to be resolved.
Mr Bercow had reportedly told friends he was planning to stand down in the summer, having spent 10 years in the post.
During that time, he's clashed regularly with the Conservative leadership - most recently in March when he refused to allow the Government to present its Brexit deal once again to MPs as it was substantially the same as had been defeated twice before.
But in an interview with the Guardian on Wednesday, he said: “I’ve never said anything about going in July of this year.
“Secondly, I do feel that now is a time in which momentous events are taking place and there are great issues to be resolved and in those circumstances, it doesn’t seem to me sensible to vacate the chair.
“If I had any intention to announce on that matter… I would do so to Parliament first.”
His comments are likely to infuriate Brexit-backing Tories, who he has previously crossed with over his decisions on EU withdrawal legislation.
Tory Brexiteer Mark Francois said: “As one vertically challenged MP to another, my sole advice to Speaker Bercow is, if you are going to stay on in these momentous times that’s fair enough, but it is important that all the players on the pitch retain confidence in the objectivity of the referee until the end of the match.”
Mr Bercow has also been criticised over the way a damning report into bullying and harassment in Westminster has been taken forward.
Conservative former cabinet minister Maria Miller said “no MP” should allow Mr Bercow to continue in his post.
The chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Select Committee said: “The Cox Report was clear that the House of Commons needs a wholesale change in leadership to address an unacceptable culture of bullying and harassment.
“The Cox report specifically includes the Speaker in that recommendation, the most senior person in the House of Commons. No MP should stand by and allow the Speaker to continue in his post.”
However, he won support from some Labour figures, including Barry Sheerman who said he was “delighted” to learn Mr Bercow had decided to “do his duty” and “see us through these troubled times”.
Shadow minister Steve Reed tweeted: “Speaker Bercow is quite right to stay on until the Brexit crisis is over, Parliament and the country needs his experience.”
It came after Mr Bercow said MPs could block a no-deal Brexit.
Speaking in Washington, he said: “The idea that Parliament is going to be evacuated from the centre stage of debate on Brexit is simply unimaginable.
“I’m very clear in my mind that Parliament and individual parliamentarians will have strong views about these matters.
“There is a difference between a legal default position and what the interplay of political forces in Parliament will facilitate.”