Is John Bercow a remainer and does the Speaker of the House of Commons have a say over Brexit?

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JOHN Bercow is meant to be neutral on issues in his role as the Speaker of the House of Commons but the MP for Buckingham has been accused of taking sides over the question of Brexit.

He is said to have been plotting with pro-EU MPs after having talks with Ken Clarke in a curry house in Westminster.

PA:Press Association

Who is John Bercow?

John Bercow, 55, grew up in Finchley, North London, where his local MP was Margaret Thatcher.

He was a youth tennis champion once ranked number one in Britain, but his asthma and short stature stopped him pursuing a professional career.

As a student activist in the far-right Monday Club, Bercow was in favour of a programme of “assisted repatriation” of immigrants.

He has since distanced himself from the organisation and dismissed his views at the time as “bone headed”.

Bercow worked in banking and lobbying and ran a speaking and campaigning course that trained future Tory MPs.

He was elected as a Conservative councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth in 1986.

Eleven years later he secured the safe Tory seat of Buckingham, which he has represented since.

He quit Iain Duncan Smith’s shadow cabinet after defying a three-line whip over allowing gay couple to adopt children.

As a Tory backbencher he openly praised Labour PM Tony Blair while criticising his own leader.

He later rejoined the front bench but was sacked by Michael Howard after clashes over tax, immigration and Iraq.

Bercow has said his political views moved to the centre in the early 2000s and he has championed causes such as gay rights.

Bercow married Sally Illman in 2002 and they have three children.

Former Tory activist Sally, now 48, appeared in Celebrity Big Brother and stood as a Labour council candidate.

In May 2015 it emerged Sally had a year-long affair with Bercow’s cousin Alan. They patched up their marriage and remain together.

Last year we reported the couple’s love life could suffer from the silencing of Big Ben as Sally finds the bongs a turn-on in their apartment beside the clock tower.

 John and Sally Bercow live next to the clock tower in the Houses of Parliament

2015 Stephen Lock / i-Images

John and Sally Bercow live next to the clock tower in the Houses of Parliament

Is he a remainer?

The Speaker of the House of Commons is supposed to remain impartial, sitting as a non-partisan figure.

But Mr Bercow has often been accused of being completely anti-Brexit.

Speaking to students from Reading University in February 2017, the Sunday Telegraph reported that he said: “Personally, I voted to remain.

“I thought it was better to stay in the European Union than not.”

He has broken with convention to give Europhile MPs the chance to pass wrecking amendments which undermine Theresa May.

The Speaker dined with Mr Clarke, the former Chancellor, at the Kennington Tandoori near Parliament on Wednesday night.

Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen stormed: “It appears that the Speaker is conspiring with Remainer MPs to stop Brexit and subvert democracy.

“The Poppadom Plot is part of the Remainer elites trying to overturn the democratic will of the British people.”

How long has John Bercow been Speaker?

Bercow was elected the 157th Speaker in June 2009 following the resignation of Michael Martin in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal.

Many of his Tory colleagues are said to have been bitterly against him but he is believed to have won the support of hundreds of Labour MPs in a secret ballot.

Bercow is the first Jewish Speaker, and the only one not to wear traditional court robes while presiding over the House.

He has also ditched clerks’ wigs and said MPs do not need to wear a tie, upsetting many traditionalists.

Many Conservatives claimed the Speaker was biased against them and Bercow repeatedly clashed with PM David Cameron.

A Tory plot to oust him days before the 2015 general election failed and he was re-elected unopposed in the new Parliament.

Bercow was re-elected again in June 2017 after the snap General Election.

In 2009 he had told supporters he would serve no more than nine years – meaning he would have quit in June 2018.

In October 2018 he reportedly told friends he would step down the following June, after ten years as Speaker.

It came as MPs told him to his face he should quit in a fiery Commons debate.

Similar reports earlier in the year claimed his wife and four kids had “grown tired of living in Parliament” and urged him to “call it a day”.

 Speaker Bercow is battling to keep his job after making inflammatory comments about the US President Donald Trump

PA:Press Association

Speaker Bercow is battling to keep his job after making inflammatory comments about the US President Donald Trump

 

Does he have a say over Brexit?

The Speaker played a crucial role on January 29, when he allowed seven of 15 amendments which have been designed to restructure Brexit.

Any successful amendments will not have the force of law, but will show Downing Street and Brussels what kind of Brexit MPs are likely to approve.


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