Commons Speaker John Bercow has insisted his impartiality is not damaged by reports he told students that he voted Remain in the EU referendum.
Bercow’s spokeswoman said that how the Speaker cast his ballot in the Brexit poll, or Strictly Come Dancing, had no impact on his ability to deal fairly with all MPs.
The Speaker, who faces a bid to oust him after he vetoed US president Donald Trump addressing Parliament during his state visit, revealed his Brexit voting stance in an 80-minute question and answer session with Reading University students on February 3, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
The newspaper, which says it has seen a video of the exchange, reports Bercow saying: “Personally, I voted to Remain. I thought it was better to stay in the European Union than not.”
Bercow also referred to “untruths” during the Brexit campaign, and how “promises were made that could not be kept”.
The Speaker said immigration was a good thing and expressed concern Labour had not done more to secure a pro-EU outcome by “striking a very clear, resonant, Remain note”.
And Bercow said he hoped after Brexit, Parliament would keep “changes on working hours, for example, that protect people’s health and safety”, according to the newspaper.
The parliamentary website states: “The Speaker is the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons and must remain politically impartial at all times.
“On election the new Speaker must resign from their political party and remain separate from political issues even in retirement.”
However, Bercow’s spokeswoman said he had done nothing to undermine his position.
She told the Press Association: “Mr Bercow voted in the EU referendum, along with millions of others.
“The record shows that he has rigorously facilitated the raising of concerns of those on both sides of this argument, as he does on every other issue.
“The Speaker’s impartiality is required on matters of debate before the House, and he has been scrupulous in ensuring that both sides of the argument are always heard.
“One example of this is his allowing of an extra amendment to the Queen’s Speech in 2013, regretting the absence of an EU referendum Bill.
“Furthermore, his comments made clear that he absolutely respected the result of the referendum.
“He is required to be politically impartial in his conduct in the chair, irrespective of any private views he may or may not hold on the matters before the House, and ensure that those matters are given a fair and transparent scrutiny, and he has absolutely done this.
“The number of Urgent Questions granted to the Brexiteers, and the unprecedented third amendment on the Queen’s Speech in 2013 - credited as one of the precipitators of the referendum itself - is testament to the fact that he does so, irrespective of how he voted in a referendum, general - one would hope for himself - local, or Strictly Come Dancing.”
The row came as it was reported that Trump may address a mass rally during his state visit after being blocked from speaking to both houses of Parliament.
An event in Birmingham may see proceeds raised by ticket sales go to the Royal British Legion, it was reported.