October 16, 2018 / 2:54 PM / a month ago

No date set for UK parliament speaker's exit: spokeswoman

FILE PHOTO: John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, arrives at a Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey, following the attack on Westminster Bridge two weeks ago, in London, Britain April 5, 2017 REUTERS/Hannah McKay

LONDON (Reuters) - The speaker of Britain’s lower house of parliament, John Bercow, will leave his post next summer, the BBC and other local media reported on Tuesday, but his office said he had made no announcement about a leaving date.

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.

The BBC and other British media outlets reported that Bercow had told friends of his plan to quit next year. His office downplayed the reports.

“The Speaker has made no announcement about his leaving date. He was elected by the House in 2017 for the course of the parliament. In the event he has anything to say on his future plans, he will make an announcement to the House first,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

The current parliament is due to run until 2022.

A debate in parliament on the harassment investigation saw some lawmakers call directly on Tuesday for Bercow to quit. 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 Theresa 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 and Gareth Jones

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