Does Speaker John Bercow have the backing of Scottish MPs?

Commons Speaker John Bercow has outlined his opposition to Donald Trump addressing both Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA/PA Wire

Commons Speaker John Bercow has outlined his opposition to Donald Trump addressing both Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA/PA Wire

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House of Commons Speaker John Bercow could be set to find himself de-robed if furious Tories get their way.

Bercow, who took over from Scot, Michael Martin in 2009, was tasked with rebuilding trust in parliament following the expenses scandal.

It is believed President Donald Trump will visit the UK in July or August. Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It is believed President Donald Trump will visit the UK in July or August. Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Even the former Conservative’s enemies would concede that he has taken some steps to modernise the arcane institutions in Westminster, though he has not been immune to controversies surrounding his own use of public money.

But it’s his statements on Donald Trump and Brexit that have finally caused his rivals to group together to boot him from office.

Bercow has never had to seek enemies on the Government benches. Tory Minister Simon Burns was once caught on camera calling the Speaker a ‘stupid, sanctimonious, dwarf.’

The Buckingham MP was elected almost wholly by Labour MP’s – he was, even before his elevation to speaker, viewed with suspicion by Tories after he went from hard-right stalwart to thoughtful liberal.

MPs will vote on whether to oust John Bercow. Picture: PA

MPs will vote on whether to oust John Bercow. Picture: PA

After banning Donald Trump from Parliament, and revealing he voted to stay in the European Union, Bercow is now under increasing pressure.

Scotland’s 59 MPs form a significant voting bloc in the Commons, and could hold his fate in their hands. With that in mind, here is what we know about their voting intentions, by party.

The SNP

The SNP have clashed with John Bercow as a group possibly more than any other party in the Commons, so it might seem surprising they have emerged as his staunchest defenders.

The Speaker might have modernising aspirations, but he’s still a stickler for the rules, and so ‘the 56’ that swept to Westminster in 2015 on a wave of pro-independence sentiment, have often fallen afoul of Bercow.

Bercow has famously taken aim at the nature and tone of speeches and questions delivered from the SNP benches, and even told off one of their number for chewing gum.

He had chided them for clapping in the Commons, but didn’t bother when they loudly applauded his anti-Trump intervention.

The SNP haven’t said explicitly one way or the other how they will vote, but they have vociferously defended Bercow’s actions in blocking Trump’s visit.

A column by SNP MP George Kerevan implied that there are some that view any Speaker as indicative of an archaic system, which may complicate matters if they are seen enthusiastically backing one candidate.

Despite that, expect them to back Bercow, if only to oppose the vast majorities of Tories.

Labour

Scotland have of course been reduced to a solitary Labour representative at Westminster, with Edinburgh’s Ian Murray ploughing a lone furrow for the once dominant party.

Murray might not get called as often as he once did now that he isn’t the Shadow Scottish Secretary, but he will also fall in behind John Bercow.

Murray approvingly retweeted the Speaker’s broadside against Donald Trump’s “racist and sexist policies”.

A Labour spokesman confirmed that Murray would vote against the motion.

Lib Dems

Alistair Carmichael is the Lib Dems’ sole representative, and given he makes up 1/8th of the entire parliamentary party, he and his colleagues will presumably vote as one group.

Carmichael, in a statement to The Scotsman, said: “The Speaker’s intervention on the subject of the Trump visit was unusual but, as I have said previously, I think it was the right thing for him to have done.

“I do not believe that it is in the best interests of the Commons to have to spend time debating a potentially divisive motion of confidence at a time when our attention should be focussed on managing the implications of last June’s referendum vote.

“Especially given that the Speaker himself said, on taking office, that he intended to stand down in the course of this parliament.

“I think that those MPs promoting the confidence motion should reflect on the wider picture and the national interest.”

Conservatives

As a Minister, David Mundell is most likely keeping his cards close to his chest until Theresa May makes her intentions known, although there is a free vote on the matter expected.

That means Mundell isn’t bound by what his colleagues in the Whips’ Office decide, though it is assumed he will go with the majority, and the Prime Minister.

Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, faces the SNP benches regularly, so may have been helped by Bercow’s slapping down of the occasionally rowdy nationalists.

Whether that favour will be rewarded remains to be seen.

Independents

In the days before the partition of Ireland, Independent Nationalist MPs were a common occurrence. Now Scotland has two of them, former SNP representatives Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson.

Both left the party after being caught up in controversy, though they continue to represent Glasgow East and Edinburgh West respectively.

Though both resigned the SNP whip, they are regularly still spotted looking very much at home on the SNP benches, and it would be a surprise for either to go against their former party and vote to oust the Speaker.

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