May 7, 2019 / 7:47 PM / 4 months ago

China envoy hails British speaker's Brexit style as model for WTO

FILE PHOTO: Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow gestures in the Parliament in London, Britain April 3, 2019, in this screen grab taken from video. Reuters TV via REUTERS/File Photo

GENEVA (Reuters) - WTO talks took a leaf out of Brexit’s playbook on Tuesday, when China’s ambassador revealed he is a fan of the speaker of Britain’s parliament and suggested following one of his rulings.

The World Trade Organization has been at loggerheads over potential reforms for far longer than the Westminster wrangling triggered by Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union, but few would point to Brexit as a model for deal-making.

However, Zhang Xiangchen told a meeting in Geneva, where the U.S. ambassador reiterated proposals to change the rights of developing countries at the WTO, that he had been watching the Brexit debates on television.

“I very much like the style and the voice of John Bercow, who is the speaker of the House of Commons,” Zhang said.

Zhang cited an “important decision” by Bercow, that the British government could not bring the same Brexit deal back for repeated votes during the same session without substantial changes, based on a rule dating from the 17th century.

“I think perhaps we should consider having similar rules to ensure the quality of our discussions,” Zhang added.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Alexander Smith

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