The speaker of the house gave an emotional farewell to the House of Commons in a surprise speech.
John Bercow said he has decided to stand down from his post either on October 31 or in the event of a general election.
He was at pains to explain his reasoning on the timing of his decision, which he said he aimed at making “the least disruptive” and the “most democratic” way he could arrange it.
In a jab at Boris Johnson’s government, he explained that his timing would allow experienced MPs to make an informed vote to replace him. Newer MPs after a general election “may find themselves vulnerable to undue institutional influence”, as he put it, to cheers.
“We would not want anyone to be whipped senseless, would we?” he said, in a clear reference to the cull of 21 Tory MPs who defied the whip last week. “No!” cried the opposition benches.
In defiance at his critics, he said he would make “no apologies, to anyone, anywhere, at any time” for his efforts to empower the House of Commons.
He nearly came to tears as he thanked colleagues, his constituents in Buckingham, and his wife and children.
The news was greeted by a standing ovation from the opposition benches, but the government remained seated. Bercow has faced fierce criticism from proponents of a no-deal Brexit.