House of Commons Speaker John Bercow is today stepping down after 10 years in the chair.
During his ten year tenure, Bercow – admired for his emphatic demands for order – had become something of a political star around the world.
On 22 June 2009, the Conservative MP was elected and ‘dragged’ to the chair, as is customary in the Commons.
Since then, Bercow has been re-elected to the position four times, and has served alongside four Prime Ministers – the first Speaker since the Second World War to do so.
His adjudication since 2009 has been characterised not least by his loud ‘Order! Order!’ commands, as well as advocating the voice of backbenchers.
But it’s not just backbenchers that have been doing the talking. Bercow has delivered over 12900 spoken contributions to the House – a significant increase from his predecessors.
If Bercow has been described as the guardian of backbenchers, then he was certainly the bane of many frontbenchers.
John Bercow was particularly noted – especially amongst critics – for the amount of times he granted urgent questions to ministers in the House. Urgent questions demand a relevant minister to appear in the Commons and answer difficult questions from MPs.
Though Bercow certainly faced critics, he has been praised for opening up Parliament to schools, and for encouraging marginal voices to be heard on a wide range of issues in the House.
Leading tributes in the Commons yesterday, Boris Johnson admired Bercow’s ability to deliver a series of ‘unreturnable’ remarks and likened him to an unplayable tennis ball machine.
Meanwhile, sitting in opposition, Jeremy Corbyn has praised the speaker for ‘standing up for Parliament’ when necessary.
A new speaker will serve for just two days before the general election, after which a formal process will begin for a new Speaker’s term.