John Bercow – The Government’s Thorn in the Side
John Bercow has served as Speaker of the House for ten years, having assumed the role in 2009.He is mostly known for his use of the word ‘order’ that is quickly followed by a clever quip to silence rebellious MPs, but he is also known for unprecedented acts, such as the refusal to allow US President Donald Trumpto address Parliament back in 2017 and may do so again this year.
He has earned the respect of many of those he presides over during debates and processions in Parliament, having been described by Labour MP Angela Eagle in 2015 as a “reforming Speaker”,but he has also created enemies, many of whom represent the government. It comes as no surprise then to see him be the target of numerous attempted coups to oust him from his position, having almost been removed in 2015through a bid to change the rules in electing Commons speakers. He may face another vote in the coming days, withConservative MP Crispin Bluntstating that he will table a motion of no confidencein John Bercow on Tuesday, citing bias from the Speaker on the issue of Brexit. This is not helped by his admission in 2017that he had voted Remain in the 2016 referendum. Such moves reflect the frustration Bercow has caused within the Tory Party over Brexit and other matters.
Mr Bercow is not without criticism, however. Allegations of bullying have tarnished his reputation in recent months. Whilst he denies the allegations, some believe that he should resign because of the atmosphere it has created within his office and across Parliament. It has provoked a response, as John Bercow is reportedly considering stepping downin his role this summer following these allegations, though there are also suggestionshe might stay on until 2022.
So what do we think of John Bercow these days? He has brought reform and fresh air to Parliament by ensuring that more backbench MPs get their say during the debate by voicing their questions and opinions to the leaders of government. He has frustrated the government’s position on Brexit however, but it has allowed Parliament to increase its value and importance over how the UK moves forward with handling this massive moment in history. He is not without controversy, and not without enemies, but overall, he has put national interests at heart, as opposed to party interests. And whilst that will not go down well with traditional colleagues, it maintains the power of Parliament which is essential to democracy in this country.
Whoever succeeds John Bercow, whether it be this year or in 2022, will have big shoes to fill and a massive legacy to surpass.