John Bercow confirmed as Speaker of the House of Commons despite unpopularity with Tories

Re-electing the Speaker will be the only agenda item when Parliament reassembles for the first time since the general election

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Indy Politics

John Bercow will be confirmed in his role as Speaker of the House of Commons, despite his unpopularity among Tory MPs and turmoil in his private life.

Re-electing the Speaker will be the only agenda item when Parliament reassembles for the first time since the general election at 2.30pm on 18 May.

When an incumbent Speaker wants to continue in office, his re-election is normally a brief formality, during which the Speaker’s chair is occupied by the longest serving MP, known as the Father of the House.

But Mr Bercow has angered ministers and government supporters with his sharp tongue and his insistence on the rights of backbench MPs. He also made enemies through his drive to modernise the House, which led to the early resignation of the Commons clerk, Sir Robert Rogers, who had worked in Parliament for more than 40 years.

The Conservative leadership’s last act before Parliament dissolved for the general election was to try to slip through a procedural change that would have increased the chances of Mr Bercow being removed from office as soon as the new Parliament met.

The proposal was that there should be a secret ballot, so that Mr Bercow would not know the names of the MPs who voted to remove him.

But it was defeated by 228 votes to 202 after Labour whips got wind of it and summoned MPs back to Parliament at short notice. The former Tory whip Michael Fabricant, one of Mr Bercow’s most persistent critics, said: “There will be no concerted effort to unseat him. The vote on the last day of the old Parliament rather decided that.

“That’s not to say people won’t shout out their objections. I won’t be shouting out, but others might. Nadine Dorries did in 2010, but it went unnoticed.”

The Father of the House, the 84-year-old Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, has signalled that if only a few voices are raised in objection, he will rule that Mr Bercow has been re-elected, without holding a vote.

Mr Bercow will face the reassembled Commons at a time when his private life is being trawled over by the tabloid press.

A week ago it was reported that his wife, Sally Bercow, had had an affair with his married cousin, Alan Bercow, having been unhappy with their marriage for some time.

On 17 May, The Mail on Sunday speculated that Mr Bercow will announce during the week that their 13-year marriage is over.

Sally Bercow has been a source of controversy as “Mrs Speaker”. She was a constant user of the social media, until she became embroiled in an expensive libel case after wrongly hinting on Twitter that the late Lord McAlpine was a paedophile.

She ran unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in a council election in 2010, whereas her husband was a Conservative before his election as Speaker, and in the 1980s was notorious as a hard line Thatcherite.

Mr Bercow’s unpopularity with Tory MPs is partly attributable to his being seen as a political turncoat.