Commons Speaker John Bercow has left the chamber for the last time day, after a tetchy final session in the chair.
The 56-year-old stepped down from the helm after 10 years in the job and uttered the words ’order, order’, after closing proceedings for the final time.
After proceeding ceased this afternoon everyone stood for Mr Bercow as he waved his final goodbye to the house.
His impact on the house was also seen through one touching picture captured of him embracing the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who has served as the Speaker’s Chaplain.
Tributes to his time in parliament have since been rolling in with many saying he should be ‘heralded’ for his contributions.
Jacob Rees Mogg was one of the Conservatives to praise Mr Bercow, but also said that there would be ‘debates’ about his term in office.
‘As there are debates about the terms of office of other speakers in our history’, he added.
This is while Labour backbencher Paula Sherriff said his ‘humanity and personal touch’ would ‘never be forgotten’.
In response to a number of touching tributes by MPs, Mr Bercow thanked colleagues and admitted it had been an ’embarrassing experience’ to be the Speaker of the house.
All smiles! On his final day in Parliament Mr Bercow looked relieved but emotional, as he stepped down after 10 years on the job
Will tears in his eyes and a smile on his face, Mr Bercow was thanked yesterday at his final Prime Ministers Questions
A moment in time: Mr Bercow will be missed by his colleagues, including Speaker’s Chaplain the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin (pictured embracing above)
His final moments as Speaker: As sessions came to a close today, Mr Bercow can be seen on the floor of the Commons
A woman takes a selfie with Mr Bercow on Westminster Bridge in London this morning on his last day as Commons Speaker
This morning Bercow stopped to pose for photographs as he crossed Westminster Bridge this morning and let a commuter take a selfie with him with the Houses of Parliament in the background.
Meanwhile a collection of previously-unreleased photographs of Mr Bercow over the past year emerged today of him at a reception after the Queen’s Speech, speaking to college students from North Wales and meeting a Muslim community in North London.
A replacement for Mr Bercow will be elected in due course – with favourites including his deputy Sir Lindsay Hoyle and former deputy prime minister Harriet Harman.
He will also resign as MP for Buckingham – a seat he has held for 22 years – which will be hotly contested in the general election this December.
Mr Bercow announced his intention to stand down from the influential position in September, saying the timing was the ‘least disruptive and most democratic course of action’.
He would have relinquished the role sooner if MPs had supported Boris Johnson’s initial attempt for an early general election in September.
Mr Bercow entered Parliament in 1997 and held several shadow ministerial positions before taking the Speaker’s chair on June 22 2009, promising to serve ‘no more than nine years in total’.
Speaker of the House of Commons Mr Bercow arrives at Parliament this morning for his final day at work in the role
Mr Bercow, pictured this morning, announced his intention to stand down from the influential position in September
Mr Bercow, pictured today, has said the timing of his departure is the ‘least disruptive and most democratic course of action’
Mr Bercow would have quit sooner if MPs had supported Boris Johnson’s attempt in September for an early general election
Commons Speaker Mr Bercow arrives at Parliament from a session in the gym this morning on his last day in the role
A woman takes a selfie with Mr Bercow on Westminster Bridge in London this morning on his last day at work as Speaker
The 56-year-old entered Parliament in 1997 and held several shadow ministerial positions before taking the Speaker’s chair
He abandoned that commitment ahead of the 2017 snap election, but allegations of bullying by former members of his staff, denied by the Speaker, led to fresh calls for him to quit.
In recent months he has also come under fire for a series of controversial rulings in the chamber which were widely considered to favour Remain supporters.
John Bercow’s most controversial moments
John Bercow was Speaker for more than ten years. Here are some of his more controversial moments:
Mr Bercow risked angering Tory MPs by revealing he was a supporter of the hunting ban to one of his constituents. The Speaker said he agreed hunting foxes to kill them was ‘wrong in the 21st century’ amid calls for the ban to be repealed in 2011.
Mr Bercow’s wife was thrown into the spotlight when she posed for London’s Evening Standard wearing nothing but a bed sheet. Sally Bercow described the ‘aphrodisiac’ effect of their life at the Palace of Westminster and described the view from the Speaker’s House as ‘incredibly sexy’. But in 2015 she said he hated living in Parliament, describing it as a ‘goldfish bowl’ amid reports of trouble in the couple’s marriage when she admitted being a ‘terrible wife’.
Mr Bercow’s use of expenses has also raised eyebrows – particularly as he took office at the height of the scandal over Westminster perks. He racked up a £172 bill being chauffeur-driven to a conference just 0.7 miles from Parliament. He also spent £367 taking a car to Luton to deliver a speech on how MPs were restoring their reputation after the expenses scandal.
Mr Bercow spent thousands of pounds wining and dining fellow MPs – including more than £2,000 on a ‘standing down’ dinner for his former deputy. A taxpayer-funded £37,000 portrait of the Speaker led to accusations of ‘vanity’. The official painting, by British artist Brendan Kelly, joined those of his predecessors going back to Sir Thomas More and featured a new coat of arms developed for Mr Bercow.
The Speaker was criticised for voicing his opposition to the suggestion that US President Donald Trump might address Parliament during a 2017 state visit. Introducing Chinese Premier Xi Jinping ahead of his address to Parliament in 2015, Mr Bercow said the Asian superpower should be a ‘moral inspiration’ and ‘the world will be watching’ – an apparent reference to Beijing’s poor human rights record.
Mr Bercow faced calls to resign in January after he was found to have a ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ sticker in his car window. ‘That sticker on the subject of Brexit happens to be affixed to or in the windscreen of my wife’s car,’ he explained to MPs. She is entitled to her views: that sticker is not mine – and that’s the end of it.’
Finally, in March, he thwarted Theresa May’s attempt to bring a third meaningful vote to Parliament. He described it as ‘the same proposition or substantially the same proposition’ as the second.
The contest to replace Mr Bercow will take place via a secret ballot, with a result announced on the same day as voting.
He has been no stranger to the limelight in more than ten years in the Speaker’s chair.
The one-time Conservative MP for Buckingham, with a high-profile Labour-supporting wife, has made a catalogue of unconventional comments since he took over the impartial role from Michael Martin.
He has survived attempts to remove him from the chair, including from former colleagues in the Tory party, revelations about his expenses and allegations of bullying, which he denied.
But it will perhaps be his interventions in the Brexit crisis, and the relish with which he seemed to make them, for which he will be best remembered.
Regular Parliament watchers may or may not miss his inimitable style, such as his bellowing shouts of ‘order’ and ‘division, clear the lobby’, but those quirks are what brought him international attention when the eyes of the world became fixed on the Commons throughout 2019.
As the Brexit debate raged and senior opposition figures played every trick in the parliamentary book to prevent the governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson from pursuing their preferred policies, Mr Bercow drew the ire of hardline Eurosceptics for perceived bias.
After he allowed an amendment by Tory rebel Dominic Grieve to be voted on in January, he was labelled ‘Speaker of the Devil’ by one newspaper, while the Daily Mail called him an ‘egotistical preening popinjay (who) has shamelessly put his anti-Brexit bias before the national interest – and is a disgrace to his office’.
He voted Remain, discussing it candidly with a group of students, but in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica denied this meant he had lost his impartiality.
‘If I’m biased, I’m biased in favour of Parliament. Parliament being heard. Parliament having a right to speak. Parliament having time. Parliament being respected by the government of the day and indeed by the opposition,’ he said.
Since being elected as the 157th Speaker of the House of Commons in June 2009, he has delivered many caustic put-downs, earning him both loathing and appreciative laughter from MPs.
He had a fractious relationship with former Commons Leader, and now Business Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, after he was accused of calling her a ‘stupid woman’.
Mr Bercow walks over Westminster Bridge this morning more than ten years after becoming speaker on June 22, 2009
Mr Bercow had initially promised to serve ‘no more than nine years in total’ when he became Commons Speaker in 2009
The contest to replace Mr Bercow will take place via a secret ballot, with a result announced on the same day as voting
Mr Bercow, pictured today, has come under fire for a series of controversial rulings seen by many to favour Remain supporters
Allegations of bullying by former members of Mr Bercow’s staff, denied by the Speaker, led to fresh calls for him to quit
Mr Bercow will today take his final seat in the chair where he has berated unruly MPs for more than 10 years
Mr Bercow poses for a photograph on Westminster Bridge this morning on his last day as Speaker of the House of Commons
The former Tory will also step down as MP for Buckingham where he was first elected more than two decades ago
His remarks from the chair include telling Labour’s Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) she would have received an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo) if her rowdy behaviour had taken place outside the Commons.
Who could replace John Bercow and how is a successor chosen?
John Bercow, the Commons Speaker who is as colourful as he is commanding, is to take his final seat in the chair where he has berated unruly MPs for more than 10 years. The former Tory will also step down as MP for Buckingham. With the search for a replacement afoot, here is a look at what the Speaker’s role is and who may be next in line to the big green chair.
– What exactly does the Speaker do?
More than just yell ‘orderrrrrr’ at rowdy politicians. As well as maintaining discipline in the House, the Speaker is an MP who chairs debates between their colleagues. They must remain politically impartial at all times. Mr Bercow has been accused of falling foul of this over the years, particularly by Conservatives. He has also received praise for empowering backbenchers – though not from the governments trying and failing to force through Brexit legislation.
– How will his successor be selected?
Mr Bercow’s replacement will be chosen on Monday during what is likely to be a day of drama. Candidates will hand their nominations over to the Commons Table Office in the morning, having secured the backing of at least 12 MPs, including three from a different party. A list of the nominees will go live on the Parliament website at around 11am, before MPs file into the Commons for 2.30pm to hear speeches delivered by each candidate. Then the voting begins. Each MP is handed a ballot paper and has 30 minutes to make their selection – in secret. Who voted for who will not be revealed. If a candidate gets more than half the votes then they are automatically elected. But, if not, any candidate with less than 5 per cent of the votes or the candidate who comes last will be eliminated. The process will then be repeated until someone secures more than half the votes, or one candidate remains if competitors drop out. A motion is then put to the House suggesting the selected MP as Speaker and, if agreed, the winner will take to the all-important chair.
– And who is vying for the Speaker’s throne?
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, 62, is currently Deputy Commons Speaker. The Labour MP for Chorley is a popular and experienced figure in the House, having first been elected in the constituency in 1997.
Dame Eleanor Laing, 61, also serves as Deputy Speaker. She has been a Tory MP for Epping Forest since 1997. Dame Eleanor is well-liked and respected across the House and has guided proceedings while deputising.
Harriet Harman, 69, a former interim and deputy Labour leader. Ms Harman, who first became an MP in 1982, is also a former leader of the Commons. She commands a great deal of respect from across party lines. As Mother of the House – the longest continuously-serving women MP- her experience stands her in good stead.
Sir Edward Leigh, 69, has been a Tory MP since 1983. An outspoken figure on the back benches, Sir Edward has championed Brexit and opposed the idea of a second referendum on leaving the EU.
Sir Henry Bellingham, 64, was first elected as a Tory MP in 1983. Sir Henry said the next Speaker needs to be firm, but not ‘rude’.
Meg Hillier, 50, is the Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch. She has previously served as shadow energy secretary.
Chris Bryant, 57, is a Labour MP who has previously been shadow and deputy leader of the Commons. He has previously spoken in favour of a second referendum on Brexit.
Dame Rosie Winterton has been a Labour MP since 1997. The 61-year-old has previously been shadow leader of the Commons and has held many ministerial positions, including in transport, health and regional affairs.
Shailesh Vara is a member of the hardline band of Tory Brexiteers, the European Research Group. The 59-year-old has held the North West Cambridgeshire constituency since 2005. He has held several junior government roles and had a brief spell as a minister of state at the Northern Ireland Office last year.
He made the joke in January 2017 as he sought to quieten the chamber to allow then prime minister Mrs May to respond to a question.
Later that month he was caught on microphone warning cabinet minister Sir Michael Fallon it would be ‘stupid’ to pick a fight with a senior MP.
He made the unguarded comment after the then defence secretary had been grilled about reports that a Trident ballistic missile veered off course during a test firing.
Mr Bercow has suggested yoga to several MPs, including Labour’s Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland) and Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), while calling for calm during heated debates.
He admonished MPs for repeatedly asking for a tea break or whether they could use the toilet during a long-running Brexit debate.
His decision to strip parliamentary officials of their traditional wigs in 2017 was met with disapproval from a number of MPs.
In the last few years he has faced scrutiny of his expenses. In November 2015 it was revealed he had spent almost £20,000 of taxpayers’ money to fly to a conference in Japan with an aide.
In February 2016 a PA freedom of information request revealed that he spent thousands of pounds wining and dining fellow MPs, plus almost £2,000 on a dinner with his Australian counterpart and hundreds of pounds to tune the grand piano in his apartments.
His office argued that the overall expenditure of the Speaker’s Office had fallen during his tenure, from £626,029 in 2009/10 to £504,737 in 2015/16.
Born on January 19 1963, the son of a Jewish taxi driver, Mr Bercow went to school in Margaret Thatcher’s Finchley constituency and first got involved as politics as a teenager.
He attended Essex University, where he gained a reputation as something of a firebrand, and became a member of the hardline Tory Monday Club, notorious for its ‘hang Nelson Mandela’ slogans, joining its Immigration and Repatriation Committee.
At the age of 20 he left the pressure group, saying some of its members’ views about immigration were ‘unpalatable’.
After a short spell at Hambros Bank, Mr Bercow embarked on a career as a lobbyist, serving as a councillor in Lambeth, south London, at the same time.
At the 1992 general election he stood unsuccessfully against Labour’s Dawn Primarolo in Bristol South.
Three years later he went into politics full-time, becoming special adviser to chief secretary to the treasury Jonathan Aitken until his resignation, and then to heritage secretary Virginia Bottomley.
Mr Bercow finally secured a berth in the safe seat of Buckingham, and, despite Labour’s landslide victory, entered Parliament at the 1997 general election.
He was made shadow chief secretary when Iain Duncan Smith became Tory leader in 2001 before quitting the Conservative front bench in November 2002.
He became Speaker following Labour MP Mr Martin’s resignation and was re-elected twice, despite angering former Tory colleagues with his behaviour in the chair.
Nadine Dorries, his constituency near neighbour, was one of a handful of MPs who tried to have him removed in 2010. He was re-elected in 2015.
Mr Bercow married Sally Illman in 2002 and they have three children together.
The marriage has been a source of attention throughout his tenure, with his wife becoming a household name after posing for a photoshoot in Speaker’s House draped in a sheet, and appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.
In 2015 she admitted she had been a ‘terrible wife’ amid reports of an affair with her husband’s cousin.
Commons Speaker John Bercow poses with his wife Sally at a drinks reception after the Queen’s Speech on October 14
Mr Bercow goes through his daily routine of preparing to preside over the day’s events in the chamber on March 12
Mr Bercow prepares for the Queen’s Speech this month before going through the Palace of Westminster to the House of Lords
Mr Bercow laughs with Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, at Speaker’s House on October 14
Mr Bercow prepares to preside over the day’s events in the chamber of the House of Commons on March 12
Mr Bercow is pictured preparing for the Queen’s Speech before processing through the Palace of Westminster on October 14
Mr Bercow holds a daily meeting with staff to discuss the House of Commons business for the day on October 14
Mr Bercow holds a Q&A session with students from Yale Sixth Form College in North Wales in Portcullis House on April 1
Mr Bercow laughs as he holds a Question and Answer session with students from Yale Sixth Form College on March 19
Mr Bercow meets worshippers at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London in March where he spoke to the Muslim community
Attention will now turn to what Mr Bercow will do next, with speculation focused on him becoming a reality TV star.
Bookmaker Coral have him at 4/5 to be a contestant on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and 10/1 to go on and win it.
There is also speculation that he will become an after-dinner speaker, with Ladbrokes offering odds of 1/10 on that career move taking place in the next 12 months.
William Hill is offering odds of 1/1 that Mr Bercow will have a number one selling book before the end of 2020, 20/1 that he will be the next Prime Minister, and 100/1 that he will be the next mayor of London.
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