There is a clear majority in the House of Commons in favour of extending Article 50.

However were the House to impose a vote of no confidence in the present Prime Minister there is no agreement across the chamber as to who should act as "caretaker Prime Minister" with instructions to seek an extension.

Is there any reason why this role could not be assigned to The Speaker?

  • 2
    It's a good question given that in some other systems (not inspired from Westminster, but more in the French tradition) the leader of one of the assemblies is somewhere in line for running the country should the president and PM be disabled. Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 10:02
  • 5
    To be clear, are you asking whether John Bercow could be Prime Minister, or whether someone could hold the offices of Speaker and Prime Minister at the same time?
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 24, 2019 at 16:26
  • @origimbo It would be a single-task job of extending Article 50, lasting for at most a day - the incumbent designated Prime Minister in order to fulfil the requirement of EU law that they be the UK's executive government. Could not the Commons in a simple majority attach that role to the Speaker, with very specific instructions as to how he was to act? He would of course need to be called to the Palace, which might present a problem, since the Queen only calls people on the advice of her outgoing PM, which would not be forthcoming. Perhaps the Commons could address a petition to the Queen??
    – WS2
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 8:43
  • @WS2 While the position of PM isn't very well defined in UK law, it really isn't consistent with the (actually better defined in Commons rules) role of Speaker, since it inevitably involves political decisions if the bomb drops (both metaphorically and literally). In principle, Parliament could pass an Act creating a new job strictly to talk to the EU on this, which would place the European council in a difficult position whether to listen or not (since not doing so wouldn't be respecting the UK's fluid constitution), but that is also extremely unlikely.
    – origimbo
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


The impartiality of the speaker and their role of chairing debates and representing the Commons to the monarch is incompatible with being a Minister of the Crown and pursuing a political programe.

Could an ex-speaker be PM? This would be possible but would still violate various conventions. A senior ex-minister is far more likely if such a circumstance arose.

  • Re the second part Bercow would certainly try if he thought he could - he's already once publicly said how he voted on a matter against all convention
    – user19831
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 11:52

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