Northern Ireland news

'People more engaged in politics due to Brexit' Speaker John Bercow tell Queen's students

John Bercow, centre, is welcomed to Queen's University Belfast
Mairead Holland

BREXIT and the Northern Ireland backstop have renewed interest in parliamentary processes, the Speaker of the House of Commons told a gathering at Queen's University in Belfast.

John Bercow was speaking on Friday during a lecture entitled How Parliament Works: A view from the Chair.

Around 300 people turned up to hear Mr Bercow's views, on the same day Theresa May officially stepped down and a Conservative leadership contest began.

Mr Bercow, who was elected speaker in 2009, said: “My office has noticed a sharp increase in correspondence because people are suddenly more interested in parliament as a result of the Brexit debates the closer we get to the deadline for leaving the EU.

“Whichever side of the argument you are on, this can only be a good thing that people are expressing their opinions and want to be part of the debate – and I urge you – students of Queen's University – to join the conversation.”

He urged anyone interested in a career in politics to get the best education they can, pursue a career, join a political party or pressure group - before even considering standing for Parliament.

“Wherever you go, whether it be down the pub, at the dinner table, standing at the school gate or in conversation with colleagues by the water cooler, there is no doubt people are talking about Brexit, politics and Parliament,” he said.

Professor Alister Miskimmon, head of the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, said Mr Bercow "presented a compelling case for the centrality of parliament in our democracy”.

The speaker also visited Wellington College in Belfast.

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