LONDON — The MP behind the plot to oust House of Commons Speaker John Bercow claims to have received a large amount of support from MPs across the house.
James Duddridge, the Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East, says that more than half of the current cabinet is backing his campaign to lodge a motion of no confidence against Bercow.
Duddridge says Bercow should cease to be Commons speaker as he ha failed to fulfil his duty to be impartial.
The Speaker grabbed international headlines earlier this month by announcing his intention to ban US President Donald Trump from addressing Parliament in Westminster Hall, while footage published over the weekend showed Bercow telling students at Reading University that he supported Remain in the June referendum.
Parliamentary rules state that House Speakers must remain impartial, even after retirement. Duddridge claims that Bercow’s comments have prompted numerous MPs to commit to back a no confidence motion against him once Parliament returns from recess next week.
However, only a handful of Tory MPs have so far publicly backed Duddridge’s plan. These include former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale, Nadine Dorries, and Andrew Bridgen. An attempt to remove Bercow from his seat in 2015 failed thanks to a Tory rebellion. A motion initiated by former cabinet ministers Michael Gove and William Hague in 205 to ensure there was a secret ballot to elect the Speaker was defeated by 228 to 202.
Hague today lashed out at Bercow for “self-indulgent” intervention on Trump.
“Whatever we think of Trump, telling someone they can’t visit your house when they haven’t even asked to do so is rude and self-indulgent,” Hague wrote in the Telegraph.
“These are not the attributes by which most of us want Britain to be known.”
Supporters of the Commons speaker are anxious that Bercow’s remarks about voting Remain in the EU referendum make him much more vulnerable this time around, the Guardian reports.
The report says that cross-party discussions are already underway with a mind to keep Bercow in the post. Some MPs are set to encourage the Speaker to reaffirm his pledge to step down in 2018, in an attempt to pour cold water over the current coup against him. Many of his supporters in the Commons are quietly hopeful that government will push a plot against Bercow off the agenda in order to stop Parliament being distracted with Brexit talk imminent.
One Conservative MP who is supporting Bercow is MP for Totnes Sarah Wollaston. Wollaston, who chairs the Health Committee in the House of Commons, said Bercow “discussed his personal views in private with students, hardly a crisis.”
Government sources have indicated that ministers will be granted a free vote on a motion of no confidence against Bercow should one arise.
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