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Furious Tory MPs threaten to remove John Bercow if he becomes "third Labour Speaker in a row"

Picture 14 With just one week to go before Michael Martin's successor is chosen, Ann Widdecombe has warned the hot favourite, John Bercow, that he should reconsider his nomination if he cannot secure more support from the Conservative benches.  Quoted in the Daily Mail Miss Widdecombe - who wishes to be an interim Speaker - said:

"'I don't want to take the job feeling that half the House doesn't want me there, and John Bercow must consider that very, very carefully... He has got years ahead of him in the Commons. If that's the situation then I think he must ask himself if this is the moment that he should be standing for Speaker."

Mr Bercow has next to no support from Conservative MPs but Labour MPs regard him, says the Mail, as "the next best thing" if they can't have a Labour MP this time.  Many Tory MPs are privately furious at the way Labour MPs are backing Mr Bercow and suspect they are doing so to give Tory MPs a headache.  One Tory MP told ConservativeHome that Bercow would be "the third Labour Speaker in a row".  Many Conservatives have not forgiven John Bercow for joining Labour's 'Government of all the talents' as an adviser during Gordon Brown's 2007 honeymoon period and they also dislike his willingness to back Labour measures, such as all women shortlists.

At the weekend Frank Field effectively ended his bid by noting a lack of support from his fellow Labour MPs.  In a not-very-coded warning to Mr Bercow he blogged: "A Speaker must also, at the same time, command support amongst all the parties here at Westminster, including their own."

The Guardian reports that Mr Bercow may struggle to secure the backing of three Conservative MPs - the conventional minimum required.  The newspaper reports Tory willingness to unseat him as Speaker at the next election.  Such an ousting would be unprecedented and would mark another politicisation of the Speakership.

Tim Montgomerie

> ePolitix has a Q&A with all candidates for The Speaker
> John Bercow sets out his 3,000 word manifesto for a '21st century Speakership'

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