Speaker faces growing pressure to step down

Backbench critics angry at Damian Green affair may oppose reappointment

Support for the Commons Speaker Michael Martin was waning last night as he faced an unprecedented wave of criticism for his handling of the Damian Green affair.

Senior MPs expressed profound concerns about Mr Martin's position as some warned that backbenchers would move to block his reappointment if he attempted to carry on beyond the next election.

Mr Martin will today chair an emergency three-hour debate on the arrest of Mr Green, the Conservative immigration spokesman whose Commons office was raided by officers investigating a string of leaks from the Home Office.

Yesterday Mr Martin's spokeswoman indicated he would be prepared to carry on as Speaker after the next election, but stressed he would listen to the concerns of his constituencies in the House of Commons and his Glasgow parliamentary seat. Critics reacted with alarm, as a survey of backbenchers carried out by the BBC found 32 of the 90 MPs who took part said they had lost confidence in Mr Martin, with 50 believing he was "culpable". Some MPs warned that backbench critics of the Speaker would try to vote down his reappointment if he tried to retain his job after the next election.

The raid on Mr Green's Commons office has provoked fury in all parties at Westminster and led a series of MPs to take the unheard-of step of openly criticising the Speaker and even calling for him to step down.

Yesterday even David Cameron, the Conservative leader, made plain his concern, stopping short of saying he had confidence in Mr Martin, saying instead: "I want to have confidence in the Speaker and the Speaker's office. Things need to be done to put right the situation."

MPs stressed that any attempt to sack Mr Martin before the next election was highly unlikely, but pressure was growing for him to stand down. Under rules adopted in 2001, the Commons must formally appoint the Speaker at the start of each Parliament. Normally a sitting speaker would be re-elected by acclamation, but procedures exist for a speaker's reappointment to be voted down in extremis.

Bob Marshall-Andrews, the Labour left-winger who last week called for Mr Martin to resign over the affair, said the Speaker would face a challenge if he tried to carry on after the next election. He said: "I think people will stand against him. I think it would be very sad if he did [stand again]. There is not a chance he would be re-elected. It would be a very sad way for him to go. He ought to go in a dignified way."

The former deputy speaker Michael Morris, now Lord Naseby, told the BBC Mr Martin had "let the House of Commons down". He said: "Why the Speaker was not in the lead role is something I find absolutely incomprehensible. He needs to reflect on that situation. I don't think that it is for the members to necessarily put down a motion of no confidence, because that is a very drastic stage, but I think he needs to reflect on his position frankly."

Mr Martin will face criticism today over plans to set up a panel of seven senior MPs to investigate the raids on Mr Green's parliamentary office. Liberal Democrats have already pledged to boycott the investigation, saying it will be Labour-dominated and will not sit until police inquiries have finished.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, told the BBC there was widespread concern about Mr Martin's handling of the affair. He said: "I think most members of Parliament, regardless of political party, believe the way in which these matters were handled in the last week was seriously flawed."

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam