POLITICS

John Bercow To Be Re-Elected Speaker Of The Commons

17/05/2015 22:11 BST | Updated 18/05/2015 08:59 BST
PA/PA Wire
RETRANSMITTED CORRECTING SIZESpeaker of the House of Commons John Bercow ahead of debate and vote on the procedures of the House in the House of Commons, London.

John Bercow will be installed unopposed as Speaker of the House of Commons today after Tory backbenchers agreed not to object to his re-election.

Mr Bercow is set to continue as the 157th holder of the historic post at least until 2018 following a decision by his critics not to exploit his current marital problems.

The re-election of the Speaker is the only item on the agenda when MPs gather for the first time following the general election.

Traditionally, the event is an uncontroversial one and the Father of the Commons, the longest serving MP, would simply invite colleagues to approve the incumbent.

Five years ago some Conservative critics shouted objections, after claiming that Mr Bercow had not shown sufficient respect for the impartiality or authority of his role. But their voices were not considered loud enough to trigger a vote.

A group of Tory MPs has since continued to claim that the Speaker has not treated their party with sufficient decorum or balance in the Commons chamber, clashing with the Prime Minister, ministers and backbenchers.

His failed attempt to replace the former Clerk of the Commons Sir Robert Rogers with an Australian Senate official sparked a backlash among MPs in several parties.

In the dying days of the last Parliament, Conservative whips staged a surprise vote to elect the Speaker by secret ballot, a move widely seen as a precursor to a serious bid to remove Mr Bercow from office.

The move, driven by No.10 and then Chief Whip Michael Gove, failed after Labour marshalled its troops and inflicted a rare defeat on the Government by 228 to 202 votes.

Mr Bercow has seen his private life splashed over the newspapers in the past week after his wife Sally revealed she had had an affair with his cousin.

But even past critics now accept that he should not be challenged in the vote tomorrow. New Father of the House, Sir Gerald Kaufman, will confirm Mr Bercow in post unless there is a sustained objection shouted by MPs.

Nadine Dorries, who was re-elected MP for Mid-Bedfordshire with a huge 23,000 majority on May 7, told The Huffington Post UK that she would not repeat her objection of 2010.

"Westminster is a small village and I’ve made my peace with John since what happened five years ago. I’ve only ever been focused on the office of the Speaker and I think it’s important to respect that office,” she said

Ms Dorries added that "it’s childish” to continue long-running feuds in the workplace and attacked the Tory whips for their recent attempt to embarrass Mr Bercow.

“At least when I did it, it was really out in the open. It wasn’t an underhand move like the one in the last days of the last Parliament. I thought that was an abuse of Parliament. It was low and underhand.”

David Cameron told the backbench 1922 Committee privately last week that his side should not object to Mr Bercow’s re-election. Government whips will not get involved in tomorrow’s events.

One of Mr Bercow’s sternest critics, Michael Fabricant, told the Huff Post UK that if there were a division, he couldn’t ‘in all conscience’ vote for the Speaker’s re-election. But he stressed that he would not push for a vote.

“I won’t shout an objection. Nothing is planned. There would certainly have been a challenge if there had been a secret ballot, but there isn’t and we’re going to let it go.”

Another unnamed Tory MP felt that it would be ‘wrong to kick a man when he’s down’.