Pressure mounts on House of Commons speaker John Bercow over Brexit remarks

Mark Sands
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June. (Source: Getty)

Pressure is increasing on House of Commons speaker John Bercow after a cabinet minister warned of "a strong reaction" to Bercow's public statement that he voted for the UK to stay in the EU, and government sources said Downing Street would not intervene to protect him.

It emerged today that Bercow had discussed his Remain vote with Reading University students after the referendum.

In a video revealed by the Sunday Telegraph, Bercow referred to “untruths” during the Brexit campaign, adding that “promises were made that could not be kept”.

The Tory MP behind a motion of no confidence in Bercow told BBC Radio 5 Live the comments meant the speaker “is no longer impartial”.

Read More: Is speaker John Bercow an embarrassment to the House of Commons?

And House of Commons leader David Lidington said on the Andrew Marr show that the remarks would generate “a strong reaction” among some MPs.

“Ultimately, the speaker has to command the confidence of the House of Commons as a whole,” Lidington said.

Bercow had already come under fire for his controversial declaration he would fight any plans for US President Donald Trump to give an address in Parliament

Read More: Trump's UK visit is just months away, according to police

​And Downing Street sources have made clear that Prime Minister Theresa May will not intervene to protect Bercow's position, telling City A.M. that May considered the furore “a House matter”, and adding: “Normal convention is that House matters are a free vote.”

A spokeswoman for the speaker said Bercow was “scrupulously impartial”, and former culture secretary John Whittingdale said on Peston on Sunday that he was “surprised” to hear of Bercow's Remain vote, adding: “I don't think I've seen any evidence that whichever way he voted it has influenced his behaviour in the chamber."

However, Whittingdale added: "But the scoresheet is mounting up and there's a lot of criticism on a wide variety of things now.”

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