John Bercow, l’éternel speaker anti-Johnson

Par Marion Van Renterghem

Posted today at 5:20 am

Watching him pace over the phone, in his thick woolen sweater, all alone in the middle of this square in Battersea, south London, leaves a feeling of melancholy. Gone are those crazy years of electric debates during which he made the House of Commons a cult series on the British parliamentary channel, to which people came to tune in from all over the world in the wake of the Brexit referendum.

Finished, his green leather armchair upholstered like the interior of a coach; finished his presidential gown enlivened by strange flashy ties from another world; finished, its repartitions with pompous and outdated turns, like its references to obscure case law of the XVIe century founding the law of one of the oldest parliaments in the world. Finished, his Homeric anger and the four articulated syllables by opening wide the mouth which made his planetary fame, these « Order ! Order ! » thrown in his cavernous voice at the dissipated MPs of Westminster.

Scathing repartees

While he is still planted in the middle of the square, his cell phone in his ear, a passerby interrupts him: “But… but… is that you?” Mr speaker? “ The former speaker of the House of Commons pushes the device aside for a moment: ” Yes it’s me ! But I am retired now ”, he replies, visibly happy to be recognized. Since October 31, 2019 when he left his chair as president, John Bercow, 58, has become Mr. Everybody again, like a princess after midnight. At least it looks like it. Because when he sits down in front of you in the Battersea café-bakery where he usually does, we quickly find ourselves in the cinema, as before.

With his back to the display of muffins and croissants, he seems to forget his chair and find his green announcer seat the minute he comes back to some of the scathing repartees he threw at his fellow Members of Parliament. Westminster tradition requires that they speak to each other only in the third person, preceded by the high-sounding title of« honourable gentleman », Where « honourable lady », history of containing the load of insults within the framework of an exquisite politeness. The announcer sometimes deviates from it. “Could the honorable gentleman stop banging his fist on his tablet?” It is discourteous and dangerous for the wood. “” The honorable gentleman is irritable. Zen! Take your pills, do yoga, something… ”

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He punctuates these tasty memories with a few « Order ! », a word he loved to gargle to the point of having made it the name of his cat, unfortunately deceased. He also never tires of interspersing the whole with a few stammered borborygmes with the accent. « posh » (aristo) and superlatives « super », ” brilliant “ Where ” fantastic “ – one of the rhetorical marks of the current Prime Minister. « The… the… the… Great ! Great ! This is… this is, this is… Great. Fantaaastic. » One of the highlights of John Bercow’s Show is the recurring Boris Johnson impersonations throughout the conversation.

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John Bercow, l’éternel speaker anti-Johnson