The Government will not protect the Speaker of the House of Commons from a vote of no confidence but will instead allow a free vote, insiders have confirmed.
No vote has yet been scheduled, but a group of around 10 Conservative MPs have vowed to raise the issue repeatedly in the Commons until John Bercow’s position becomes untenable. Government insiders have confirmed to The Telegraph that if a vote should come before the House, ministers will be free to back it, rather than whipped to abstain.
James Duddridge, a former Foreign Office minister who has tabled a motion opposing the Speaker, said: “I have received reassurances that in a vote of no confidence the government will play absolutely no part in this.
“If given a free vote, I know very few people in the Conservative Party — ministers included — who would have any confidence in Speaker Bercow. The fact that the government payroll will not have to sit on their hands is a game-changer.”
Bercow has come under increasing pressure since using his position to insist that U.S. President Donald J. Trump will not be welcome to address the House of Commons during his state visit, due to take place later this year. In doing so, Bercow broke with the convention that Speakers remain neutral in all matters.
Over recent days, it has emerged that Bercow also backed Remain during the Brexit referendum last summer, while allegations have surfaced that Bercow accepted tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of donations from contacts of Keith Vaz, a Labour MP. Vaz was forced to step down from chairing the Home Affairs Select Committee due to a scandal over drugs and male prostitutes.
Nigel Farage, who ran against Bercow in the 2010 General Election, told The Telegraph: “He wouldn’t have become Speaker without Labour’s support and the donations from Keith Vaz’s contacts back that up.
“I can’t think of any Speaker in the last 700 years who has stepped so far over the line as Bercow has in the past week, there’s no longer any attempt at neutrality whatsoever.”
A spokesman for Mr. Bercow insisted his admission that he had voted for Remain did not affect his ability to act impartially. “The record shows that he has rigorously facilitated the raising of concerns of those on both sides of this argument, as he does on every other issue.”