Former House speaker John Bercow says Brexit is 'biggest foreign policy mistake in post-war era'

Former Commons speaker John Bercow Credit: PA/Stefan Rousseau

Former House of Commons speaker John Bercow has described Brexit as the "biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period".

During his time as speaker, Mr Bercow came under fire from Brexiteers for alleged Remain-bias.

But Mr Bercow told a gathering of foreign press that he remained impartial while chairing proceedings in the chamber, now he was no longer speaker, it allowed him to express his personal opinions.

In a recording of the event by a Turkish news agency, Mr Bercow said: "I’m no longer the speaker, I don’t have to remain impartial now and if you asked me honestly do I think that Brexit is good for our global standing? The honest answer is no, I don’t.

“I think that Brexit is the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period, and that is my honest view.”

Earlier, he said: “The honest answer is that I don’t think it helps the UK. Let me say for the umpteenth time, for the avoidance of doubt that I believe I was always fair in the Chair."

Mr Bercow talked up his impartiality credentials, saying he allowed an amendment to the Queen's Speech which called for an EU referendum in 2013 - long before any referendum took place.

Mr Bercow talked up his decision to allow an amendment on the Queen's Speech in 2013, calling for an EU referendum. Credit: PA

He said: “For years, Bill Cash, Bernard Jenkin, John Redwood, John Baron, all of them know that I selected an amendment to the Queen’s Speech in 2013 calling for a referendum on British membership of the EU.

“Why did I select that amendment? Because it was heavily signed and I thought it was a legitimate proposition which should be put to the House of Commons and the House of Commons rejected it.

“Some people have said it was part of a sequence of events that caused David Cameron ultimately to change his mind and to decide to have a referendum. Well, that’s a matter for him, that’s not a matter for me.

Mr Bercow insisted that he "always treated the Brexiteers in a fair way and I’ve always treated the Remainers in a fair way".

John Bercow said he 'respects' Mr Johnson's decision to call a general election. Credit: PA

On Mr Johnson's decision to call a general election, Mr Bercow added: "I completely respect the right of the Prime Minister, leading the largest party in Parliament, to try to get support for his position, which is to get Brexit done.

“If he had the numbers, he could have got the first phase done and he made a start be getting agreement towards the end, but not to the legislation, so he decided to leave that and instead to seek a public mandate.

“I respect his right to his view which is a view very widely shared but there is an alternative view equally that is very widely shared and my own personal opinion is that Brexit does not help us.

“We are part of a world of power blocs and trade blocs and my view is that it is better to be part of that power bloc and of that trade bloc than not.”