Jacob Rees-Mogg says John Bercow has brought standing of House of Commons to 'lowest point in modern history'

Posted On: 
30th September 2019

Jacob Rees-Mogg has accused John Bercow of plunging the reputation of the House of Commons to the "lowest point in modern history".

John Bercow and Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Credit: 
PA

The Commons Leader reignited the Conservatives' bitter feud with the Speaker as he claimed that a string of "mistakes" by Mr Bercow had damaged the public's perception of Parliament.

Ministers have repeatedly clashed with the Speaker in recent months following a series of controversial rulings on Brexit.

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Most recently, he has come under attack for allowing backbenchers to seize control of Commons business and pass a law compelling the Government to seek a Brexit extension if it cannot strike a deal with the European Union.

In a speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Rees-Mogg told activists he was "going to be nice" about the Speaker - before accusing him of damaging Parliament's standing.

"As a parliamentarian, I have been in many ways and remain a great admirer of the Speaker," the Cabinet minister said.

"He has helped MPs hold the Government to account and to seek redress of grievance.

"But in my view, he has now flown too close to the sun and I hope that as he comes to his retirement he will not allow the good he has done in his earlier years to be forgotten.

"But his recent mistakes have to my deepest regret as Leader of the House of Commons damaged the standing of the House in the eyes of the British public to the lowest point in modern history."

The comments from Mr Rees-Mogg come after his predecessor as Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, accused Mr Bercow of a "flagrant abuse" of process and confirmed that the Tories would break with convention and stand a candidate against him at the next election.

Mr Bercow - who has occupied the Speaker's Chair since 2009 - then revealed that he would stand down as both Commons Speaker and an MP by the end of October.

In a tearful statement, the Speaker said he had always "sought to be the backbenchers' backstop".