The Sunday Telegraph

Bercow joins Labour with attack on Johnson

Former Speaker leaves ‘populist’ Tories for party that shares his values and could make him a peer

- By Phoebe Southworth and Edward Malnick

JOHN BERCOW, the former Conservati­ve MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, has switched his political allegiance­s to join the Labour Party.

Mr Bercow, who stepped down as Speaker in 2019 after 10 years, said he regarded the Conservati­ve Party today as “reactionar­y, populist, nationalis­tic and sometimes even xenophobic”.

He said he joined the Labour Party a few weeks ago because he shared its values and viewed the Opposition as the only means to removing the Tory government from office.

The move raises the possibilit­y that Mr Bercow, who drew fury from the Conservati­ves for aiding repeated attempts to scupper Brexit, could once again be nominated as a Labour peer. Last year, Boris Johnson blocked Jeremy Corbyn’s recommenda­tion for Mr Bercow to receive a peerage over allegation­s of bullying by the former Speaker.

Downing Street had ignored the convention that Speakers are elevated to the Lords after they step down.

Mr Bercow told The Observer: “I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and internatio­nalism. That is the Labour brand. The conclusion I have reached is that this Government needs to be replaced. The reality is that the Labour Party is the only vehicle that can achieve that objective. There is no other credible option.”

A senior government source said: “This will surprise nobody and shows Labour is still the party of Remain.”

Mr Bercow described the Prime Minister as “a successful campaigner but a lousy governor”.

“I don’t think he has any vision of a more equitable society, any thirst for social mobility or any passion to better the lot of people less fortunate than he is,” he said.

“I think increasing­ly people are sick of lies, sick of empty slogans, sick of a failure to deliver.’’

He said the Conservati­ves’ unexpected loss of the Chesham and Amersham parliament­ary seat in the by-election last Thursday showed there was “considerab­le distrust on the part of voters in the south of England of this Government”.

Asked if he believed Sir Keir Starmer could lead his party to victory in the next general election, Mr Bercow said that he was unsure.

“The jury is out. I am, however, hopeful because I observed Keir Starmer at close quarters from the Speaker’s chair. He may not be Bill Clinton or Barack Obama but he is decent, honourable and intelligen­t and he came into politics as public service.

“I believe that he is motivated by an earnest and consuming desire to better the lot of the vast majority of the people of this country who do not enjoy the privileges that he does.”

Commons officials have accused Mr Bercow of creating a climate of “fear and intimidati­on” during his time in office, and a former clerk of the Commons said that he used “sexually and racially inappropri­ate” language.

Mr Bercow said that the claim was “unadultera­ted rubbish”.

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