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10 Feb, 2017 11:03

House of Commons Speaker Bercow faces no confidence vote over Trump remarks

House of Commons Speaker Bercow faces no confidence vote over Trump remarks

Up to 150 Conservative MPs will support a no confidence motion against House of Commons Speaker John Bercow after he said he would not allow US President Donald Trump to address Parliament during a state visit, breaking protocols of impartiality.

Earlier this week Bercow told MPs that Trump should not be allowed to address Parliament because the US president is “racist” and “sexist.”

Bercow said addressing Parliament is “not an automatic right” but an “earned honor.”

James Duddridge, Tory MP for Rochford and Southend East, described Bercow’s comments as “wholly inappropriate” and has tabled a no confidence motion to remove him.

The early day motion (EDM) – a way for MPs to register concern about an issue – was tabled as Parliament rose for its February recess, which Duddridge said would give his colleagues time to think about the issue.

He suggested that by the time MPs return to Westminster on February 20, Bercow may realize his position is “untenable, perhaps even to the point that he doesn’t return on the Monday.”

Conservative MPs opposed to Bercow want a “fresh speaker,” according to the Telegraph.

“He has got to go. He can no longer reasonably chair as speaker, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Duddridge said.

“He was not within his remit, he was using a minor technicality. Any MP can invite anyone into the House of Commons.”

In order for a debate to be held on the issue, parliamentary time would have to be allocated. Duddridge said there are a number of possible ways that could happen.

If the government refuses to allocate time, the issue could be selected for a formal debate through a request to the Backbench Business Committee, or even through a public “Bercow must go” parliamentary petition to trigger a vote.

The motion is unlikely to secure a majority, however, and would not be binding. Labour says it will oppose a vote of no confidence, and even some of Bercow’s most ardent Tory critics have voiced their support. 

After Bercow’s Trump comments, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Well said John Bercow. We must stand up for our country’s values. Trump’s state visit should not go ahead.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This is the right decision by the speaker. The prime minister might wish to kowtow to the nasty misogynist that now sits in the Oval Office but no one else does. We do not want him to speak to us. He is not welcome.”

Facing criticism from his own Conservative ranks, Bercow, who has been speaker since 2009, was forced to defend his comments.

“I was honestly and honorably seeking to discharge my responsibilities to the House,” he said.

Bercow has subsequently faced calls to resign on the grounds that he breached the neutrality expected of the speaker. A petition was even launched to get him sacked.