Tory MP recalls John Bercow’s ‘appalling’ behaviour as speaker
John Bercow has been accused of the “biggest abuse of power” in his attempts to block Brexit from happening.
The blindside comes from usually mild-mannered Theresa May, who is bringing out a book called The Abuse of Power: Confronting Injustice in Public Life, in September.
Any politics obsessives hoping for Mrs May to attack her successor, Boris Johnson, will be disappointed according to the Sunday Times, who sat down with the former premier for her first major interview since leaving Downing Street in 2019.
The only target of personal ire is former Commons speaker John Bercow, whom she accuses of carrying out the biggest abuse of power she ever witnessed during the Parliamentary Brexit impasse over Northern Ireland.
She told the paper: “We got to a point where the DUP were being positive. We were actually at the point of them being willing to say they would support the deal”.
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“The normal processes went on in terms of going to the Speaker to talk about the motion, and he wouldn’t let us put the motion down. So that meant we couldn’t have the debate, we couldn’t have the vote, and by the time we did the DUP had changed [their mind].
“And so there was a point we could have had a vote to do Brexit on the basis of the deal. He took a decision that meant that didn’t go ahead.”
Her book focusses on events outside of party politics, including Hillsborough, the police cover-up of Daniel Morgan and Grenfell fire.
Mrs May’s book makes just 13 fleeting references to Boris Johnson, though she does focus in on Partygate as an example of politicians creating a “perception that somehow MPs were able to get away with breaking the sort of rules which they would expect everyone else to follow”.
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“The idea that there has been one rule for the public and another for MPs provokes public cynicism and leads increasingly to the charge of hypocrisy.
“In other words, why should we do what you say when you don’t do it yourself? Above all, it shatters any sense that MPs are leaders in society.
“Yet I still believe we have a responsibility to try to show such leadership. It may be harder in today’s world, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”
Like her plans for an early General Election, she says she came up with the idea for a book while on a walking holiday with her husband in the Alps.
Mrs May argues politicians need to understand their jobs are about public service, rather than power, in order to restore integrity to parliament.
“What you fundamentally need is for MPs not to think that they’re a species apart simply because they’ve been elected.
“It’s that sense that, for some MPs, they are in a position of power because they’ve been elected, that they’re special, that they are a breed set apart. I think we have to change that thinking because, basically, being an MP is a job.”
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