Not him again! Ber­cow now says he wants five more years as Speaker

Daily Mail - - Election 2017 - By John Stevens Deputy Po­lit­i­cal Ed­i­tor

JoHN Ber­cow was last night branded ‘a dis­grace’ and a ‘self-serv­ing par­a­site’ af­ter he de­clared that he wants to re­main Com­mons Speaker un­til 2022 – go­ing back on a prom­ise to stand down next year.

When elected Speaker in 2009, the con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure pledged to serve for nine years, but yes­ter­day he re­vealed he plans to cling on for the next five years.

Tory MPs, who have long com­plained about his bias, last night pledged to mount a chal­lenge to oust him when Par­lia­ment re­turns.

Mr Ber­cow, who is cam­paign­ing to be re­elected as MP for Buck­ing­hamshire, told Sky News that he was en­ti­tled to change his mind just as Theresa May had gone back on a prom­ise not to call a snap elec­tion.

‘I had orig­i­nally in­di­cated an in­ten­tion to serve for ap­prox­i­mately nine years,’ he said.

‘If I may le­git­i­mately say so, I made that com­mit­ment eight years ago, it was be­fore the Fixed-term Par­lia­ments Act, it was be­fore the EU ref­er­en­dum.

‘We’re in a very dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion… The Prime Min­is­ter, very prop­erly, is en­ti­tled change her view about whether the national in­ter­est would be served by an ear­lier elec­tion rather than a later one. I made no crit­i­cism or com­plaint about that what­so­ever. So if peo­ple are en­ti­tled to change their minds over a rel­a­tively short pe­riod of time I think I’m en­ti­tled to take a some­what dif­fer­ent view now to the one I took back in 2009.’

If Mr Ber­cow serves a full five-year term it would make him the long­est serv­ing speaker since Ed­ward Fitzroy, who held the of­fice for 15 years from 1928 to 1943.

A group of Tory MPs at­tempted to re­move Mr Ber­cow ear­lier this year af­ter he uni­lat­er­ally banned Don­ald Trump speak­ing to Par­lia­ment when the US pres­i­dent vis­its the UK for his planned state visit, but they failed to get enough sup­port from col­leagues.

Mr Ber­cow has re­peat­edly faced ac­cu­sa­tions that he has failed in his duty of im­par­tial­ity, in­clud­ing ear­lier this year when he boasted of back­ing Re­main in the EU ref­er­en­dum. His Labour deputy Lindsay Hoyle is the favourite to take over the Com­mons chair, but faces a bat­tle to hold on to his Chor­ley seat.

An­drew Brid­gen, who is seek­ing re-elec­tion as Tory MP for North West Le­ices­ter­shire, last night pledged to lead a chal­lenge to Mr Ber­cow’s re-ap­point­ment. ‘He can stand, but it will be a de­ci­sion for the new Par­lia­ment not John Ber­cow,’ he said. James Dud­dridge, who led the at­tempt to get rid of Mr Ber­cow ear­lier this year and is seek­ing re-elec­tion as Tory MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: ‘He said he would only serve un­til June 22, 2018, he has bro­ken his man­i­festo prom­ise to go at this date.

‘He is a dis­grace and should not be re­elected as Speaker if he is re­turned as an MP. He is a self- serv­ing par­a­site of the worst or­der.’

Back­lash: The Com­mons Speaker

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