John Bercow steps down as Commons Speaker

  • Published
John Bercow in the House of CommonsImage source, UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

John Bercow has shouted "order order" for the last time in the House of Commons, as his 10-year reign as Speaker came to an end.

He has presided over business in the chamber one final time before his successor is chosen on Monday.

Mr Bercow, who is standing down as MP for Buckingham, has been a contentious figure, with some MPs questioning his impartiality when it comes to Brexit.

But Boris Johnson said he had been an innovator and a "great servant" of MPs.

The prime minister compared Mr Bercow - who is a huge tennis fan - to an interventionist umpire who had "peppered" the Commons with often "unreturnable volleys and smashes".

During Mr Bercow's final Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also praised the Speaker's efforts to modernise the Commons and the role he had played in promoting parliamentary democracy abroad.

After their election on Monday, Mr Bercow's successor is only likely to have a day in the chair before Parliament is dissolved ahead of the 12 December election.

The Speaker is always selected from the ranks of MPs but the convention - only occasionally broken by some parties - is that he or she stands unopposed in general elections.

On Thursday, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg led the tributes to Mr Bercow, saying he believed the good he had done should be "heralded" on his final day in the chair.

He said Mr Bercow's use of words such as "chunter" and "dilate" had been popularised during his time in the role and praised him as the "backbenchers' champion".

Image source, UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Continuing the tributes, shadow leader of the House Valerie Vaz told Mr Bercow: "The word 'order, order' is now used by parents around the country as the new naughty step."

And the SNP's shadow leader of the House Pete Wishart said: "The way we do business in this chamber is now forever changed because of your speakership - you have pioneered and you have transformed."

Image source, PA Media
Image source, PA Media

But it wasn't all smiles during his final session in the chamber, after he locked horns with Tory backbencher Andrew Bridgen.

Media caption,

Bercow: "Don't mix it with the chair"

Mr Bercow announced his intention to stand down in September.

The 56 year-old's exit was due to have coincided with the day the UK left the EU but Brexit has since been delayed until 31 January.

Mr Bercow served as a Conservative MP for 12 years before being elected as Speaker in 2009.

During his decade in the role, he has issued the Speaker's trademark "order, order" instruction to MPs around 14,000 times.

He has given unprecedented powers to backbenchers to hold ministers to account and made controversial and far-reaching procedural decisions at key stages of the Brexit process.

Media caption,

MPs pay tribute to John Bercow at his last Prime Minister's Questions

However, his period in charge of the House of Commons also saw several revelations of parliamentary staff reporting allegations of bullying and harassment by MPs and other senior figures, including Mr Bercow himself - which he has always denied.

All previous Speakers have automatically been given peerages upon their retirement and sat in the House of Lords.

It has also been reported Mr Bercow will be in demand on the lecture circuit.