The former Speaker managed a decade in the job before retiring at the 2019 general election. As John Bercow ended his reign, he championed parliamentary scrutiny when Boris Johnson’s administration prorogued the House of Commons. In the end, the prime minister was re-elected with a huge majority and the UK has left the EU, but now the country faces the coronavirus pandemic, how would John Bercow be reacting to it if still Speaker?
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, the author of new biography John Bercow: Call to Order, Sebastian Whale revealed what Bercow would be doing differently compared to his replacement Lindsay Hoyle.
The author said: “He would certainly want to assert the importance of parliamentary scrutiny at this time.
“And there really is an appetite [for that] amongst MPs if you talk to them.
“[One] to make sure that, as the government spends hundreds of billions of pounds on rescue packages and what have you, they are making the right decisions at this time and that they’re held to account.”
- John Bercow book on Speaker’s ‘FRACTURED Lindsay Hoyle relationship’
Whale continued: “Bercow I think would have been very assertive about that. Lindsay Hoyle has as well.
“But perhaps Bercow would have been a bit more vociferous in his defence of these sort of ideals.
“Broadly they would have done the same thing.”
However, the biographer asserted that Bercow would have been “leading the charge” for the select committees to be kept going virtually, which they have been.”
He added: “I’m sure, to be honest with you, he’s wishing he was involved and helping out because this is very much his sweet spot in terms of defending and promoting parliamentary scrutiny.”
“He probably would have been very Bercow about it.”
The biography also reveals a clash between the Speaker and his then deputy Hoyle, one that happened relatively early on.
Whale said: “An eyewitness saw it during a Speaker’s conference.”
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The author continued: “Apparently Bercow let rip at him about something.
“They had a very fractured relationship, is the truth.”
“So it was not a particularly harmonious relationship, but perhaps a professionally sound one.”
“I don’t think they particularly liked each other.”
He added: “But professionally Lindsay was a Deputy Speaker for nine years before becoming Speaker.
“They made it work, but certainly I don’t think they were best friends.
“Not on each other’s Christmas card lists; let’s put it that way.”
John Bercow: Call To Order by Sebastian Whale is out now.
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