'You're embarrassing us in front of the Lebanese': British parliament speaker tells Brexit frenzied MPs

'You're embarrassing us in front of the Lebanese': British parliament speaker tells Brexit frenzied MPs

3 min read
04 September, 2019
Lebanese satirist KarlreMarks has frequently compared Brexit Britain with Lebanon. Now the UK Parliament's Speaker says its lawmakers are not setting a good example for the Arab state.
Lebanese MPs have been seen getting into physical fights in parliament before [Getty]
Amid heated debate in Parliament over Brexit, Speaker John Bercow has called into question whether British MPs are on their best behaviour for a visiting delegation of Lebanese politicians.

The parliamentary delegation, including Liberation and Development bloc-member Yassine Jaber, arrived in London this week at one of the most unstable times in British political history.

In fact, the UK's Brexit crisis has previously drawn joking comparison with Lebanon's notoriously shambolic, sectarian government.

Skeptics thought the UK - surely - could not be as Lebanon, with its ongoing garbage crisis and routine scuffles in parliament.

But, as the UK grows ever closer to the 31 October Brexit deadline, Britain's Parliament may have proved skeptics wrong.

Fearing for the Lebanese delegation, Parliament Speaker John Bercow on Wednesday scolded British lawmakers for their raucous parliamentary performance.

"I appeal to colleagues to take account of the fact that we're visited by a distinguished group of Lebanese parliamentarians," Bercow said, with one unidentified lawmaker could be heard saying "I'm so sorry" in the background.

"We'd like to set them a good example," the Speaker continued.

"I'm not sure at the moment how impressed they'll be," Bercow concluded, reprimanding the House of Commons with a pointed, knowing look.

The international press has at turns warmed to and ridiculed the particular style of the UK's House of Commons, where MPs are required to follow antiquated forms of address but also regularly erupt into clamorous debate punctuated by bizarre insults - and, of course, roaring requests by Bercow for "Order! Order!"

Such scenes were at their height this week when more than 20 Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday rebelled against Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take control of Parliament to discuss preventing a No-Deal Brexit.

Heated debate has continued as Johnson seeks to trigger a snap election next month.

Parliament's weekly Prime Minister's Questions session - where Johnson faced up aganst the Leader of the Opposition, Labour Party chief Jeremy Corbyn - always provides opportunity for such scenes, and this week was no exception.

Bercow scolded the prime minister directly for his referring to Corbyn without the requisite form of address. 

The Labour Party leader would normally be referred to as the "Right Honourable Gentleman".

Stranger than fiction

Lebanese satirist Karl Sharro, also known by his online moniker KarlreMarks, called the incident "the best day of my life".

Sharro has regularly compared Brexit Britain to Lebanon in his popular tweets - even going as far to joke the UK would be divided between "Leavia" and "Remainia", with the dividing line running through central London, in a nod to 
war-time Beirut's Green Line.

Back in August, when power cuts hit much of southern England, KarlreMarks tweeted: "And the UK's transformation into Lebanon is finally complete. With the economic stagnation and social division I feel right at home now."

"I'm not used to being in a country split down the middle with an emotionally charged atmosphere between two camps," he said in a 2016 tweet just days after the Brexit referendum. "Might go back to Lebanon."

So synonymous is the comedian with Sharro with the comparison that in response to Bercow's statement, one Twitter user said: "I-is this real or is it a @KarlreMarks joke?"

"Lebanon doesn't get that many mentions in the UK Parliament, but Speaker John Bercow ticks off MPs for not setting a group of Lebanese parliamentarians a very good example," Joseph Willits, Parliamentary and Events Officer for the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said in a tweet.

"Not sure our politics has been able to set a good tone for a very long time."