October 16, 2018 / 2:59 PM / a year ago

UK parliament speaker John Bercow will stand down next summer: local media

FILE PHOTO: John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, shakes hands with Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox ahead of a speech from Spain's King Felipe at the Palace of Westminster in London, Britain July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Files

LONDON (Reuters) - The speaker of the British parliament’s lower house, John Bercow, will stand down from his position next summer, local media reported on Tuesday.

An investigation published on Monday said the House of Commons had allowed a culture of bullying and sexual harassment to thrive, and its top officials may need to be replaced to restore confidence.

Local media, including the BBC, reported that Bercow had told friends of his plan to quit next year. Bercow’s office was not immediately able to comment on the reports.

A debate in parliament on the harassment investigation saw some lawmakers call directly for Bercow to quit on Tuesday. He has himself faced allegations of bullying from former members of staff, which he has denied.

The speaker’s job is to chair debates in parliament’s directly-elected chamber. Bercow is the highest authority within the House of Commons, which gives him considerable influence over the political agenda in parliament.

For example, he is expected to be faced with a crucial decision in the upcoming vote on any Brexit deal Prime Minister May is able to strike with Brussels.

He will likely have to decide whether to permit opponents of May’s Brexit plan to try and change the terms of the debate into one on a second referendum - a key decision which could allow lawmakers to put pressure on May to avoid a ‘no-deal’ exit.

Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan; editing by Elizabeth Piper

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