Tory MP mounts bid to oust John Bercow over Trump comments

Commons Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA
Commons Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA
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A bid to oust Commons Speaker John Bercow has been launched by a Tory MP who claimed his behaviour in the House this week had been “wholly inappropriate”.

It comes after the Speaker faced calls to consider his position after he said US President Donald Trump should not be allowed to address Parliament on his state visit to Britain later this year.

Former minister James Duddridge tabled the motion, telling Sky News Mr Bercow had “overstepped the mark”.

The motion was tabled as the Commons rose for the February recess, with Mr Duddridge claiming that support for the move could see the Speaker forced out before MPs return to Westminster.

The Rochford and Southend East MP told Sky: “He has overstepped the mark, he has overstepped the mark a number of times but this most recent incident - where he used the Speaker’s chair to pronounce his views on an international situation in some quite detailed and lengthy manner is wholly inappropriate and it means that he can no longer reasonably chair, as Speaker, any debate on those subjects.

“This has been happening more and more often from this modernising Speaker.

“This is perhaps the straw that has broken the camel’s back.”

Mr Duddridge said he had been “amazed” at the number of people who had encouraged him to table the motion.

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The House of Commons returns on February 20 and Mr Duddridge said: “He doesn’t really understand the degree of the anger in the House of Commons, the distrust in his role as Speaker of the House of Commons and I expect over the recess - because Parliament now shuts down for one week - over that week the number of MPs speaking out either publicly or privately to journalists will increase and increase and it will be known his position is untenable, perhaps even to the point that he doesn’t return on the Monday.”

Mr Duddridge wrote to Theresa May earlier this week requesting that ministers are given a free vote in any potential vote designed to topple Mr Bercow.

On Monday in the Commons, Mr Bercow appeared to brand the US president “racist” and “sexist” and said Mr Trump’s travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries meant he was “even more strongly” opposed to an invitation.

He was applauded by some MPs on making the intervention but his move irritated several Tories and also caused a clash with Lord Speaker Lord Fowler, who vowed to keep an “open mind” about Mr Trump addressing Parliament.

But Mr Bercow received support from Labour in the Commons earlier, with the Opposition urging ministers to reject calls for a vote of no confidence.

Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz urged her opposite number to “confirm that the Government will not support any attempts to act on the letter to the Prime Minister about comments made on a point of order in this chamber”.

Commons Leader David Lidington did not respond to the question about the Speaker but said the Government had to deal with the US president as he was democratically elected, despite strong feelings on the matter.

He said: “Whatever view any of us as individuals might have on any particular leader of another country, the reality is that governments have to deal with other governments in the world as they exist and particularly with elected governments who are able to claim a mandate from their own people.”

Mr Lidington told MPs there was no challenge to the legitimacy of the US election, despite the “bitterness” of the campaign.