From Conservative MP and Speaker of the House of Commons to Labor Party membership

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John Bercow has spent more than 10 years in the limelight as Speaker of the House of Commons.

The former Tory MP for Buckingham, with a high-profile wife who supports Labor, made a catalog of unconventional comments during his decade in the president’s chair from 2009.

He has survived attempts to impeach him, including former Conservative Party colleagues, revelations about his spending and allegations of intimidation – which he has denied.

John Bercow (Stefan Rousseau / AP)

It is perhaps his interventions in the Brexit crisis, and the taste with which he seemed to make them, that people perhaps remember the most.

Regular observers of Parliament may recall his unmistakable style, such as his yells of “order” and “division, clean the hall” – quirks that earned him international attention when the world’s eyes were fixed. on the Commons throughout 2019.

As the Brexit debate raged and senior opposition officials played all the tricks of the parliamentary book to prevent the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson from pursuing their favorite policies, Mr Bercow drew the ire of diehard eurosceptics for a perceived bias.

After allowing a vote on an amendment by Tory rebel Dominic Grieve, he was called “Speaker of the Devil” by a newspaper, while the Daily Mail called him a “selfish popinjay (who) shamelessly put his anti-Brexit bias before the national interest – and is a disgrace for its function ”.

He voted for Remain, speaking candidly with a group of students, but in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica denied that this meant he had lost his impartiality.

John Bercow holds a question-and-answer session with students from Yale Sixth Form College in North Wales at Portcullis House in Parliament (Stefan Rousseau / PA)
John Bercow holds a question-and-answer session with students from Yale Sixth Form College in North Wales at Portcullis House in the Houses of Parliament (Stefan Rousseau / PA)

“If I am biased, I am biased in favor of Parliament. Parliament heard. Parliament having the right to speak. Parliament has time. The Parliament is respected by the government in place and even by the opposition ”, he declared.

After being elected 157th Speaker of the House of Commons in June 2009, he delivered many caustic criticisms, which earned him both disgusting and grateful laughs from MPs.

He had a rocky relationship with former Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom after being accused of calling her a “stupid woman”.

In January 2017, he was taken to the microphone to warn Sir Michael Fallon that it would be ‘stupid’ to fight with a high-ranking MP.

He made the comment unsupervised after the then Defense Secretary was grilled over reports that a Trident ballistic missile had deviated from its course during a test fire.

He berated MPs for repeatedly asking for a tea break or if they could use the toilet during a long-running Brexit debate.

John Bercow goes through his daily routine of preparing for President the day's events in the House of Commons (Stefan Rousseau / PA)
John Bercow goes through his daily routine of preparing for President the day’s events in the House of Commons (Stefan Rousseau / PA)

His decision to strip parliamentary officials of their traditional wigs in 2017 was rejected by a number of MPs.

During his last years as President, he was subject to careful scrutiny of his spending.

In November 2015, it was revealed that he had spent nearly £ 20,000 of taxpayer dollars to attend a conference in Japan with an assistant.

In February 2016, an access to information request from the Palestinian Authority news agency revealed that he had spent thousands of pounds to win and dine his fellow MPs, plus nearly 2,000 pounds. sterling for a dinner with his Australian counterpart and hundreds of pounds to tune the grand piano in his apartments.

His office argued that overall expenses for the President’s office had declined during his tenure from £ 626,029 in 2009/10 to £ 504,737 in 2015/16.

In February 2020, Mr Bercow was severely reprimanded by House of Commons authorities for appointing staff members without their permission in his autobiography.

In a very unusual move, a House spokesperson said it was “unacceptable” for Mr Bercow to publicly identify current and former staff – especially for the purpose of “financial gain or a commercial success “.

John Bercow (Jonathan Brady / AP)
John Bercow (Jonathan Brady / AP)

A spokesman for Mr Bercow strongly defended his actions, saying he had the right to respond to “unfounded” allegations made by a small but “very loud” group of people trying to “blacken his name”.

Born January 19, 1963, the son of a Jewish taxi driver, Mr Bercow attended school in Margaret Thatcher’s constituency in Finchley and first engaged in politics as a teenager.

He attended the University of Essex, where he gained a reputation as a sort of brandon, and became a member of the Tory Monday Club, known for its slogans “hang Nelson Mandela”, joining its immigration committee and repatriation.

At the age of 20, he left the lobby group, claiming that some of its members’ views on immigration were “unpleasant”.

After a short stint at Hambros Bank, Mr Bercow embarked on a career as a lobbyist, while working as a consultant in Lambeth, south London.

In the 1992 general election he ran unsuccessfully against Dawn Primarolo of Labor in Bristol South.

Three years later, he entered politics full-time, becoming special advisor to Chief Treasury Secretary Jonathan Aitken until his resignation, then to Heritage Secretary Virginia Bottomley.

Mr Bercow eventually secured a place in Buckingham’s secure seat and, despite Labor’s landslide victory, entered Parliament in the 1997 general election.

He was named shadow chief secretary when Iain Duncan Smith became Tory leader in 2001 before stepping down from the Tory front seat in November 2002.

In June 2021, Mr Bercow said he had changed allegiance to join the Labor Party.


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