John Bercow was elected Speaker of the Commons last night, with MPs choosing a reformer to clean up Parliament after the expenses scandal.
The 46-year-old Tory MP, the first Jewish Speaker and the youngest since 1839, defeated Sir George Young, the Eton-educated liberal Tory, by 322 votes to 271 in a secret ballot after eight other candidates were eliminated.
Mr Bercow said the Commons had suffered a "gruelling experience" over the expenses crisis and many MPs felt "very sore and very vulnerable".
"We have to reform," he said, but noted that most MPs were "upright, decent, honourable people who have come into politics not to feather their nests but because they have heeded the call of public service".
Mr Bercow, who had long campaigned for the support of Labour MPs, faced opposition from fellow Tories who once feared he would defect to Labour, blaming the influence of his Labour-supporting wife, Sally.
Some Tories refused to clap or join a standing ovation when the result was announced and some have threatened to make his Speakership a short-lived affair by calling a new vote if the Conservatives win the general election and using their majority to oust him.
Bercow in his own words
MAKING HIS CASE
“I want to implement an agenda for reform, for renewal, for revitalisation and for the re-assertion of the core values of this great institution in the context of the 21st century. Unless we can move the debate on from sleaze and second homes to the future of this House we shall remain in deep trouble. A legislature cannot be effective while suffering from public scorn. We can rebuild trust and restore our reputation but only if we can make a clean break and demonstrate once again that it is an honour, without equal, to sit in this House.”
“I said only a few hours ago in my speech that if elected, a Speaker has a responsibility immediately and permanently to cast aside all of his or her previous political views. My commitment to this House is to be completely impartial as between members of one political party and another. That is what it is about … I believe the vast majority of Members of this House are upright, decent, honourable people who have come into politics not to feather their nests but because they have heeded the call of public service.”