John Bercow warns of ‘testing times’ ahead as he is re-elected Speaker
John Bercow has warned that Westminster is destined for “testing times” ahead as he was re-elected Speaker of the House of Commons.
Mr Bercow was returned uncontested to the Speaker’s chair following the general election, and praised the “rich diversity” of the Commons as the most representative of Britain than any that have gone before.
A record number of women, LGBT and ethnic minority candidates were elected to the Commons last Thursday, while there was also a rise in the number of MPs with disabilities.
As he praised Tory grandee Ken Clarke, the Father of the House, Mr Bercow said as a “tested Speaker” he was prepared for a hung parliament.
“If the House so permits, I shall be honoured to serve as Speaker in this parliament, which thankfully across the parties is more richly diverse and representative of modern Britain than any of its predecessors,” he said.
“I will strive to ensure that all parts of the House are heard fully and fairly and, as always, I will champion the right of backbenchers to question, to probe, to scrutinise and to hold to account the Government of the day.”
He concluded: “Finally Mr Clarke, I referred admiringly to your 47 year tenure. It may come as a relief to colleagues to know that I have no pretensions to seek to serve for anything like so long a period, either as a parliamentarian or indeed in the Chair as Speaker.
“That said we appear to be destined for testing times. I offer myself to the House as a tested Speaker.”
Upon being elected Speaker uncontested, extending his eight-year tenure in the chair, Mr Bercow devoted his speech to the 87 newly elected MPs in the Commons.
“Whatever else you have done or will do in the course of your careers, there will be no greater honour than that with which you have just attained as an elected Member of Parliament,” he said.
“And I am sure that each and every one of you will be very conscious of your responsibility to your constituents. Rest assured that the Speaker will look out for you and be very keen sooner rather than later and more frequently rather than not frequently to hear from you.”
Mr Bercow originally pledged to serve nine years as Speaker, but decided to stay on until 2022 when the election was called earlier this year.
Prime Minister Theresa May quipped: "I congratulate you on your re-election - at least someone got a landslide.” She praised the Buckingham MP as "a great champion of backbenchers", while Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Bercow has acted "in the tradition of a Speaker standing up for democracy".