John Bercow backed by MPs across Commons

MPs from all parties support Speaker in amended motion after Tory backbencher’s effort to oust him over Trump comments

MPs from parties across the House of Commons, including Labour, the Conservatives, the SNP and Ukip, have signed an amendment backing the Speaker, John Bercow, to try to halt attempts by Tory backbenchers to remove him from office.

Julian Lewis, the Tory chair of the defence select committee, emailed MPs on Thursday afternoon asking them to back an amendment to an early day motion stating that the Commons had “no confidence in the speaker.” The amendment from Lewis removed the word “no” from the motion.

Bercow provoked Tory backbench anger last week when he publicly vetoed any invitation to the US president, Donald Trump, to address both houses of parliament, saying the Commons had a long history of opposing racism and sexism.

The Speaker is facing growing pressure, including over a claim that he told a group of students he had voted remain in the EU referendum, an action some MPs said contravened his obligation to be neutral.

MPs representing all parties in the Commons have signed the motion supporting Bercow. They include Labour’s Stephen Doughty, the Tory MPs Lewis and David Amess, the SNP’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, and Plaid Cymru’s Jonathan Edwards.

Others who have signed are the Lib Dems’ Tom Brake, Ukip’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, and the Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas. Northern Irish MPs from three parties have signed: the DUP’s Jim Shannon, Danny Kinahan from the UUP and Mark Durkan from the SDLP. Sinn Féin is the only other party with MPs elected to parliament, and they do not take their seats.

MPs supporting the no confidence motion, which was brought by the Tory MP James Duddridge, are expected to break ranks over the coming days.

Greg Hands, the international trade minister, was the first government frontbencher to hint that he backed efforts to remove the Speaker, highlighting a tweet criticising Bercow that was posted by a constituent, Georgia Toffolo, of the Made in Chelsea reality TV show cast. “John Bercow, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. The Commons needs a new IMPARTIAL speaker,” she tweeted.

Duddridge, the MP for Rochford and Southend East, said he was certain Hands backed the movement to oust Bercow, as did many cabinet ministers and several Labour MPs. “I think we will see more break ranks in the coming days,” he said. “Greg Hands is an excellent minister who speaks his own mind. The government has issued no official instructions on how to vote and insists it’s a matter for the house.”

The Conservative MP Karl McCartney sent out an email to all MPs on Tuesday asking them to back the no confidence motion. “The recent outburst by the Speaker, unilaterally barring the president of the United States – our closest ally – from addressing members of parliament, was a breach of parliamentary protocol that parallels no others that neither I, nor more senior members can recall,” the email said.

So far only Duddridge’s name appears under the official motion to remove Bercow. Any MPs who have signed the motion over the parliamentary recess this week will be revealed on Monday.


Jessica Elgot

The GuardianTramp

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