How’s the Speaker/PM stand-off going to end?
I’m just back from the longest break I’ve had from PB since it’s establishment in 2004 and am only now catching up on what’s happened in the past week and a half.
The above encounter last Wednesday showing the readiness of the speaker to cut off the prime minister while in full flow in his final response to the opposition leader strikes me as being unprecedented which could have long lasting consequences.
Certainly the blue team, particularly those close to Number 10, are furious because interventions like this are not something that Bercow made during Gordon Brown’s final year as Prime Minister. Clearly there is little love lost between a speaker who is said for years to have harboured his own ambitions to be Tory leader and the man who is in the job.
But where do we go from here? What can Dave and his team do? Are ministers going to have to get used to a speaker being more interventionist?
For unless Bercow does something like the dressing down of Kate Hoey during the expenses row in 2009 – the action that sparked off the demise of speaker Martin – there’s unlikely to be be cross-party support for moves against him. The parliamentary arithmetic means that there’s little that the blue team alone can do.
This leaves us with the next general election which, of course, is likely to be fought with new boundaries. Could that, I wonder, provide a pre-text for the Tories to run a candidate against Bercow. I know that this is being looked at but it’s hard to see the precedent of Speaker’s being unopposed by the main parties being broken.
John Bercow could still be in the chair when David Cameron makes his last PMQ appearance whenever that will be.