Inside Politics: Is this High Noon for Mr Speaker?

Should his bid to wreck Boris Johnson's Brexit plans be defeated, his Speakership will have little purpose left. When MPs return to Westminster on Tuesday, a series of procedural attempts will be made to overturn the Prime Minister's decision to lengthen the annual parliamentary recess for the party conference season by six days. From his sunbed on holiday in Turkey, Mr Bercow has already signalled his intention to do everything in his power to help the "Remain Alliance" of MPs' bid to thwart Downing Street.

He issued an extraordinary statement condemning the proposed prorogation of Parliament as a "constitutional outrage" this week.

How the Speaker, whose job is to represent the Commons as its highest officer, was able to gauge the opinion of the other 642 sitting MPs when the House was closed for the summer break has not been explained.

MPS intend to seize control of the Commons order paper on Tuesday to try to force through legislation legally mandating Mr Johnson to seek another Brexit delay. 

The Speaker, who has been in contact with leading Tory rebel Sir Oliver Letwin, is widely expected to give them the nod to do so.

Mr Bercow, who has publicly admitted to backing Remain in the 2016 EU referendum despite his duty of impartiality, has long delighted in making life as difficult as possible for the Tory frontbench. 

Earlier this year, he insisted on his right to ignore parliamentary precedent when allowing an amendment tabled by hard-line anti-Brexit MPs.

Yet for all Mr Bercow's bluster, Mr Johnson's team are relaxed about the coming confrontation. Downing Street officials sought legal advice before the Prime Minister asked the Queen to approve his prorogation request. 

The Prime Minister would not have proceeded with his move to curtail parliamentary sittings without knowing constitutional law was on his side.

Mr Johnson is understood to believe much of Theresa May's trouble over Brexit resulted from her promise to respect Commons votes that were advisory rather than mandatory. 

He intends to fully use prime ministerial powers under the Crown prerogative to ensure that the verdict of the EU referendum is delivered.

He also holds the ultimate threat of being able to trigger a general election should the rebel attempt to force a Brexit extension succeed, or should a majority of MPs back a motion of no confidence in the Government tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The thought of a snap poll, fought on the issue of whether the will of Parliament or the people should prevail, should be enough to strike terror into the hearts of Remainer MPs. 

And the first act of Parliament after a general election is to choose a new Speaker.

Senior Downing Street officials believe finally delivering Brexit will unleash energy for seismic changes in the way Parliament and the Civil Service operate.

Mr Bercow is likely to be swept away in that wind of change.

"The Commons desperately needs a new Speaker who will get back to the tradition of making sure the Chamber functions properly rather than indulging in political grandstanding," one Downing Street insider told me.

Mr Bercow relishes being the centre of attention during momentous debates.

He should make sure he enjoys what are likely to be his final hours in the Speaker's Chair this autumn.

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