Tory MP tables vote of no confidence in John Bercow after Donald Trump attack

Posted On: 
9th February 2017

A Conservative MP has tabled a motion of no confidence in John Bercow following the Speaker’s public condemnation of Donald Trump in the Commons this week.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow in the stands during a Premier League match
PA Images

James Duddridge claimed that more MPs were preparing to go public with their anger and that Mr Bercow could be forced out of his post before the Commons returns from its recess a week on Monday.

His move to unseat the Speaker comes 24 hours after writing to Theresa May urging her not to impose a whip on her top team if the Commons holds a vote of no confidence in him.

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Some Conservative MPs reacted angrily after Mr Bercow stated his “strong opposition” to President Trump addressing parliament during his state visit later this year, accusing him of sexism and racism.

Speaking to Sky News after tabling his motion, Mr Duddridge said the rebellion would grow over the next week .

“I think he doesn’t really understand the degree of the anger in the House of Commons, the distrust in his role as Speaker of the House of Commons, and I expect over the recess... the number of MPs speaking out either publicly or privately to journalists will increase and increase and it will be known that his position is untenable – perhaps even to the point that he doesn’t return on the Monday,” the MP for Rochford and Southend East said.

On Tuesday Mr Duddridge suggested more than 100 MPs would be willing to criticise the Speaker after his high-profile intervention against President Trump.

And yesterday he wrote a terse letter to the Prime Minister asking: “Could you confirm that if there is a vote of no confidence in the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Government will not intervene and will give Ministers a free vote?”

Mr Duddridge said the latest controversy was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for a Speaker whom the last Government tried to oust in 2015.

“He’s overstepped the mark a number of times but this most recent incident, where he used the Speaker’s chair to pronounce his views on an international situation in a quite detailed and lengthy manner, was wholly inappropriate and it means that he can no longer reasonably chair as speaker any debate on those subjects. And this has been happening more and more often from this modernising Speaker.

“This is perhaps the straw that has broken the camel’s back. A few years ago people were unhappy with Speaker Bercow; the number is much, much greater [now].”

However, a Cabinet minister told PoliticsHome that any coup against the Speaker would fail.

"Any attempt to get rid of the Speaker would be a waste of time because there isn't a majority in the House to support it,” the minister said.


Mr Bercow on Tuesday insisted he had acted "honestly and honourably" when he made his statement about President Trump.

In the Commons chamber, Tory MP Sir Gerald Howarth had suggested Mr Bercow had failed to act impartially.

But the Speaker said: "Whilst I completely understand there can be different views about this matter... I was commenting on a matter that does fall within the remit of the chair.

"The House has always understood that the House has a role in these matters... I was honestly and honourably seeking to discharge my duties to the House."

Former Cabinet minister John Whittingdale and Lord Lamont were among the senior Conservative figures to criticise Speaker Bercow for his intervention.

Backbench Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi said he should “think about” his position, while Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said that Mr Bercow “doesn’t speak for the Government” on the issue.

But the Speaker did find support from Opposition parties, including Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said he was “absolutely right”.