Anti-Brexit Ex-Speaker John Bercow Finally Joins the Labour Party

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: House of Commons John Bercow announces that the house will sit at 11:30 tomorrow morning following the Supreme Court ruling that the current suspension of parliament is unlawful one on September 24, 2019 in London, England. The court’s unanimous decision said that Prime Minister Boris …
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Former Speaker of the House John Bercow has announced that he will be joining the Labour Party, declaring that it is the “only credible vehicle” to remove the Conservative government. Others have suggested that the defection is a cynical ploy to secure a position in the House of Lords.

John Bercow, who served for ten years as the Speaker of the House of Commons until his resignation in 2019, has announced that he has joined the Labour Party. Despite previously serving as a Conservative MP, Bercow said that his “values are left of centre” and that he does not “identify with the Conservative Party”.

“If you believe, as I do, that this government is bad news, unfit to govern, and that the prime minister — though a successful campaigner — is a lousy governor, you have to ask yourself do you want rid of it… and the only credible vehicle for the removal of this government is the election of a Labour government,” the anti-Brexit former MP told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips.

Bercow claimed that his decision came about from an internal awakening rather than his apparent personal animus towards Boris Johnson.

“It’s not personal against Boris Johnson,” he said, adding: “I do think that he is someone who only has a nodding acquaintance with the truth in a leap year, and I think the utter contempt with which he has treated Parliament is lamentable… but no, over a long time I have evolved my political thinking.”

In an interview with the left-wing Observer, Bercow accused the Tory Party of becoming “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic”.

“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.”

Bercow gained notoriety during his tenure as House Speaker through his trademark shouting of “Order” during sessions of the House of Commons. He drew the ire of members of the Brexit movement for his apparent efforts to block the will of the British public by stymieing the progress of Brexit.

After leaving office, Brecow admitted that he had a “handmaiden role” in assisting Remainer forces in Parliament to stop a no-deal Brexit. The ex-Speaker has also characterised Brexit as “the biggest foreign policy mistake in the post-war period”.

The now openly left-wing politician also made international headlines for his fervent anti-Trump stance, even going so far as to threaten to ban the President from speaking to Parliament in 2017.

In response to the defection, Brexit leader Nigel Farage said: “Bercow backed the Remain sabotage campaign in Parliament and now joins the Labour Party. He loves a sinking ship.”

Reform UK leader Richard Tice suggested that the move by Bercow was aimed at securing himself a peerage and a place in the House of Lords, saying that it is just “another reason to abolish the House of Lords”.

Likewise, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen also said the move was part of a “cynical” and “cunning” ploy to prompt an elevation to the House of Lords.

Breaking precedent, last year, Bercow became the first Speaker of the House of Commons not to be nominated for a peerage after Prime Minister Johnson refused to recommend him and despite a nomination from the former Labour leader, socialist Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Bercow, for his part, denied that the prospect of a peerage nomination from the Labour Party motivated his decision, claiming that he has no discussions on the matter with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer or any other member of the party leadership.

“What I am motivated by is a commitment to equality, social justice, and internationalism,” he said.

Far-left MP John McDonnell expressed his jubilation over the Bercow defection, saying: “When he was Speaker, John Bercow was scrupulously fair in his treatment of Jeremy Corbyn [and] me [and] all Members in the Commons.

“He won our respect, especially for his fight to protect the rights of Parliament. I wholeheartedly welcome him into the Labour party.”

Others have questioned whether the grandiose move from Bercow on Sunday was an attempt to gloss over bullying accusations levied against him during his time as Speaker, investigations into which are still ongoing — accusations which Bercow has denied.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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