U.K. Motion to Oust Anti-Trump Speaker Is Picking Up Momentum

  • Motion to overthrow John Bercow so far has only one signatory
  • Opposition parties have expressed confidence in speaker

A U.K. lawmaker who is seeking to oust the House of Commons speaker John Bercow for criticizing Donald Trump said he’s picking up support for his motion of no confidence after Bercow said he voted against Brexit.

James Duddridge took a formal step to oust Bercow on Thursday after the speaker said he’d veto any plan for U.S. PresidentTrump to address lawmakers when he makes a state visit this year. While the initiative has only his signature so far, it gathered momentum over the weekend after a video showed the speaker telling students he voted “Remain” in the referendum.

John Bercow

Photographer: Rick Findler/PA Wire via AP Photos

“The speaker can no longer be deemed to be independent of the political debate, and therefore his position as Speaker of the House of Commons is untenable," Tory lawmaker Alec Shelbrooke said Sunday to BBC radio.

Bercow, who left the Conservatives when he became speaker, has frequently irritated his former party colleagues. Nevertheless there has only been one successful effort in more than 300 years to unseat a speaker -- back in 2009, when Michael Martin resigned over an expenses scandal.

A vote on Bercow can’t be held until Parliament reconvenes on Feb. 20 following the recess. 

Parliament Recess

Duddridge said members of all parties, including ministers, have indicated their support for his motion. With Parliament on recess this week, there are indications other Conservatives may join him.

“Ministers have been on the phone to me over the weekend as well as backbenchers, as well as people from all political parties saying if it comes to a vote of no confidence they will vote with me in the lobbies against speaker Bercow,” Duddridge said on Monday in a BBC radio interview. “Enough is enough, we need a new and impartial speaker.”

Bercow’s remarks on Brexit, were to students at Reading University earlier this month. “This may not be popular with some people in this audience,” he said. “Personally I voted to ‘Remain.’ I thought it was better to stay in the European Union than not.”

“The score sheet is mounting up and there’s a lot of criticism on a wide variety of things now,” former Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said on ITV’s “Peston on Sunday” program. “I was very unhappy about his comments concerning Donald Trump. I thought that they were damaging and actually it was a bit of grandstanding by John.”

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