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John Bercow, the animated speaker of the House of Commons, said on Monday that he would step down by Oct. 31, the day Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union. He said he would not run should a general election be called before then.

“This has been, let me put it explicitly, the greatest honor and privilege of my life, for which I will be eternally grateful,” he said, becoming emotional as he thanked his wife and children for their support.

He also warned lawmakers to respect the process of the parliamentary system, noting, “We degrade this Parliament at our peril.”

The role of speaker has traditionally been an impartial, background figure, but Mr. Bercow brought new aggression to the role throughout the fraught Brexit debates that have dominated discussions in Parliament for years.

His actions — particularly his criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament, and his decision to bar a third vote on Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement and effectively halt the government’s agenda — have made him some enemies in the Conservative Party.


1:35Speaker of the House of Commons to Step Down
John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, announced that he would leave by Oct. 31, the day Britain is scheduled to exit the European Union.CreditCreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Bercow’s plan to step down upends a Conservative Party plan to break with longtime convention and field a candidate to challenge him in the next general election. The party had said that Mr. Bercow broke the rules by allowing Parliament to take control of the Brexit process and hobble the government’s position.

Writing in the The Mail on Sunday, Andrea Leadsom, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, accused Mr. Bercow of “a flagrant abuse of this process” and of “giving power to the opposition.”

“Bring back an impartial speaker,” she declared.

Last year, when Ms. Leadsom was leader of the House of Commons, Mr. Bercow was accused of calling her a “stupid woman” and “useless.” He admitted to muttering the words during a disagreement but denied insulting her personally.

Legislation that would require Britain to seek another Brexit extension from the European Union if there is no withdrawal agreement by Oct. 19 became law on Monday, a move that Prime Minister Boris Johnson bitterly opposed.

The opposition Labour Party and others have insisted that they will not consider Mr. Johnson’s request to hold a general election until after a no-deal Brexit was ruled out.

That sets the stage for another battle: whether, and when, to hold a general election. The vote on the snap general election is expected to take place between 9 p.m. and the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The success of the no-deal legislation is due in no small part to the decision last week by 21 members of Mr. Johnson’s Conservative Party to defy him on the question of whether to leave without a deal. They were expelled from the party for their defiance.

The Tory revolt against Mr. Johnson, and his ruthless purging of the rebels, have reverberated through British politics, threatening his hold on power.

The prime minister and many of his allies say that Britain must preserve the possibility of leaving without a deal in order to maintain leverage in negotiations with Brussels. Opponents of a no-deal withdrawal say it simply cannot be considered because of the potentially catastrophic consequences for the British economy.

After just one week’s work following the summer vacation, British lawmakers will be sent away again Monday night when Parliament is “prorogued,” or suspended, until Oct. 14, the prime minister’s office said.

Lawmakers will first vote on whether to hold a snap election with the expectation that, as they did last week, they will refuse to give Prime Minister Boris Johnson the two-thirds majority he needs to call a vote next month.

Then Parliament will be suspended after formal announcements in both chambers and a ceremony that includes a cry in Norman French.

The suspension means that, if Mr. Johnson loses on Monday, he would not be able to attempt votes later this week to try to secure the snap election before the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline.