Pressure mounted on the Commons Speaker, Michael Martin, to "jump before he is pushed" yesterday, as more MPs called for him to announce that he will retire. A growing number of parliamentarians believe Mr Martin has mishandled the controversy over MPs' expenses and think a new figurehead for the Commons is needed to restore public trust. Charles Clarke, the former home secretary, told the New Statesman magazine that Mr Martin's performance was "utterly deplorable".
Paul Flynn, Labour MP for Newport West, said: "He hasn't led the House of Commons – he's been too defensive and has actually attacked the whistleblowers. We need someone who is interested in exposing the errors of the past and is willing to introduce new rules. As a Speaker he lacks authority and the leadership skills essential to win back the public's confidence in Parliament."
There are also signs that, while not wanting to attack the Speaker in public, the Labour and Tory leaderships are turning against him. Referring to his astonishing rebuke on Monday to MPs calling for more openness on expenses, one minister said yesterday: "He has lost the plot."
Douglas Carswell, a Tory backbencher, said he would table a motion of no confidence in Mr Martin next week. He claimed more than six other MPs from all parties would sign it. Mr Carswell said he wanted to give MPs the opportunity to go back to their constituencies at the weekend, to understand the public anger about the expenses furore and realise change is needed. "We need a new speaker with a mandate for radical change to make politicians work for the people," he said. "I'm not having a dig at Michael Martin because he is anything other than a decent, honest, honourable man. I just happen to think he is bad at doing the job of Speaker.