John Bercow was close to tears as Conservatives were narrowly defeated in their attempt to force him to face a secret ballot for re-election as Speaker in May. In the final four hours of the Parliament, retiring former Foreign Secretary William Hague led the charge against Bercow.
Hague was accused of a “grubby” political trick, by only allocating one hour for debate on the motion, which would have made it easier to challenge the Speaker after the general election. However, despite his obvious sadness at the way he was being treated, Bercow himself was accused of playing games with the House.
Tory rising star Jesse Norman intervened with a point of order to ask why Bercow had not called anyone who was in favour of a secret ballot. Bercow responded by blaming the government for the lack of time in the debate, to cheers from the Labour benches.
Douglas Carswell, who had been so instrumental in the removal of the last speaker joined his UKIP colleague Mark Reckless in giving a ‘thumbs-up’ to the Speaker when he won the vote. Labour MPs were far less muted as they applauded Bercow and shouted at the losing Tory side.
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw waved his arms with such delight that he appeared to have developed an injury as a result. Bercow has long been the nemesis of Conservative MPs who accuse him of favouring the Labour Party.
They had not wanted him as Speaker but were forced to have him when Labour and Liberal Democrats joined forces to vote for him. As the secret ballot has been defeated, the names of anyone who votes against him in May will be recorded.
Deputy Speakers are already elected by secret ballot. The motion to make the election for Speaker a secret ballot was defeated by 228 to 202.