John Bercow is at the centre of a new bias row after The Mail on Sunday learnt that the anti-Brexit ex-Speaker has joined the Labour Party.
Westminster sources confirmed that Mr Bercow, accused as Speaker of repeated pro-Remain prejudice, has signed up to the party within the last four weeks, with his name recently appearing on a ‘new joiners’ list.
Mr Bercow, who infuriated Brexiteer MPs as Speaker by revealing he had voted Remain, declined repeated requests to comment to this newspaper last week.
But in an interview with the Left-leaning Observer newspaper, the ex-Speaker admitted he has joined Sir Keir Starmer‘s party, and delivered a savage attack on Boris Johnson‘s Tories, dismissing the party he belonged to for many years as ‘reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic’.
Mr Bercow said he joined Labour because he now shares its values and sees it as the only means to removing the current Government. He also brands Mr Johnson ‘a successful campaigner but a lousy governor’.
Westminster sources confirmed that John Bercow, accused as Speaker of repeated pro-Remain prejudice, has signed up to the party within the last four weeks, with his name recently appearing on a ‘new joiners’ list
However, his move to Labour completes an extraordinary political journey for Mr Bercow, originally elected as a Tory MP, from self-confessed ‘hard-Right’ politics in his youth to Labour member.
It also marks a sharp break with the tradition that Commons Speakers, who give up party political affiliations on taking that post, stay impartial by retiring to the Lords as crossbench peers.
Mr Bercow, 58, was last year denied a peerage amid reports that he was under investigation over allegations – which he rejected – that he bullied staff during his time overseeing Commons proceedings.
And Tory critics pointed out last night that it was ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who proposed him for the Lords, and suggested that joining the party now was a bid to revive his peerage hopes.
Labour sources insisted there was ‘no deal’ for Mr Bercow to be nominated for a peerage by Sir Keir, or for any other party post.
His move to Labour completes an extraordinary political journey for Mr Bercow, originally elected as a Tory MP, from self-confessed ‘hard-Right’ politics in his youth to Labour member.
Mr Bercow was elected Speaker in 2009 amid claims even then that he was ready to ditch many of his Tory principles to win the votes of Labour MPs, anxious to install a Speaker ahead of the 2010 general election who would cause trouble if the Tories won power.
He was understood to have won the support of many Labour MPs despite once having been a member of controversial hard-Right Tory pressure group the Monday Club.
In his autobiography, Mr Bercow goes out of his way to disown his ‘Monday Club dalliance’, saying that it was a ‘most shameful decision’ and referring to how he had ‘been zealously pursuing my ugly brand of hard-Right politics’.
Mr Bercow added that he had quit the group when he was 21 and had ‘for decades now subscribed to a much more mainstream and progressive view of multiracial Britain’.
He was elected Buckingham MP in 1997 and in his Commons’ maiden speech lauded Margaret Thatcher – who died in 2013 – as ‘the world’s greatest living statesman’.
Mr Bercow, 58, was last year denied a peerage amid reports that he was under investigation over allegations – which he rejected – that he bullied staff during his time overseeing Commons proceedings
Last night, Tory MP and former Brexit Minister David Jones asked how that would go down with the ex-Speaker’s new Labour colleagues.
Mr Jones added: ‘John Bercow is simply removing all doubt about the pro-Labour, anti-Brexit leanings he has very obviously harboured from some time. In fact, given how biased he was as Speaker, perhaps the only surprise is he didn’t join the socialists earlier.
‘I can only presume he is hoping that by paying his membership fee, Sir Keir will follow through on Jeremy Corbyn’s offer to send him to the Lords.’
Tory Brexiteer Peter Bone said: ‘I think John Bercow will be very much at home in the Left-wing, elitist, anti-Brexit organisation that is the Labour Party under Sir Keir.’
But pro-Remain Labour MP Neil Coyle hailed the move last night, saying: ‘I personally would welcome any other former Tories who want to join.’
A senior Government source said last night: ‘This will surprise nobody and shows Labour is still the party of Remain.’