Former UK speaker Bercow defects to Labour with attack on Johnson

361

LONDON, June 20, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – The colourful former speaker of Britain’s
House of Commons John Bercow said he has left the Conservatives to join the
opposition Labour Party, launching a blistering attack on Prime Minister
Boris Johnson.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper published on Sunday, the former
MP said the Conservative Party under Johnson was “reactionary, populist,
nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic”.

Bercow, who stepped down as speaker in October 2019 after 10 years, said he
joined the Labour Party a few weeks ago because he shared its values.

“I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and
internationalism. That is the Labour brand,” he told the Observer.

“The conclusion I have reached is that this government needs to be
replaced. The reality is that the Labour Party is the only vehicle that can
achieve that objective. There is no other credible option.”

Bercow described the prime minister as “a successful campaigner but a lousy
governor.”

“I don’t think he has any vision of a more equitable society, any thirst
for social mobility or any passion to better the lot of people less fortunate
than he is. I think increasingly people are sick of lies, sick of empty
slogans, sick of a failure to deliver,” he told the newspaper.

Bercow served as a Conservative MP for Buckingham for 12 years before being
elected speaker in 2009, becoming the youngest person to hold the role for
100 years.

Famed for his shouts of “Order, order!” to bring raucous MPs in line,
Bercow found himself as the man in the middle of more than three years of
fiery parliamentary debates on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

He enraged the ruling Conservatives with a series of decisions they saw as
trying to stymie Brexit and favouring the “Remain” side.

The 58-year-old vehemently denied ever taking sides but earned praise from
pro-Europeans and a global following with his rulings and outsized
personality.

His later years as speaker were overshadowed by allegations of bullying
parliamentary staff, accusations he denies.

Labour’s former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Bercow had been
“scrupulously fair” in his treatment of MPs.

“He won our respect, especially for his fight to protect the rights of
Parliament. I wholeheartedly welcome him into the Labour party,” McDonnell
tweeted.

For the Conservatives however, pensions minister Guy Opperman said: “Labour
are welcome to Bercow.”