In the middle of the August recess, Bercow quietly slipped the name of his preferred choice of Common’s Clerk to No 10 for them to send to the Palace. As the BBC reported on 19 August:
“Speaker John Bercow’s choice to take over as Parliament’s most senior official is almost certain to get the job…
…a spokesman for House of Commons leader William Hague said it would be “pretty extraordinary” if Downing Street were to reject the panel’s chosen candidate.
A source close to Mr Bercow called the recruitment process, which included two interviews, “fair and transparent”.”
After sitting on it for 9 days, Downing Street have now made clear they are not happy. Bercow has woken up to the crisis, despite still standing by his choice for Clerk late last week. A source tells the Times Red Box:
“He realises there are big problems here and he does not want to do something to which the House is opposed. As far as we know he wants to be re-elected as Speaker in 2015. And neither would John want to embarrass the Queen.”
Bercow is now signalling he would be happy to look again at splitting the role – something opposed by Tory backbenchers, but the current Clerk has fired a missile at that idea too. Again the BBC:
“Sir Robert Rogers – the most senior official in the House of Commons – says a suggestion his role could be split to create two posts of equal seniority is the ‘wrong answer’. Adding ‘the buck must stop somewhere, and it needs to stop with the official who is responsible to the House, not to a Chief Executive responsible to the Speaker and the House of Commons Commission’.”
Bercow has blinked, but this will rumble on yet. Either way, is it not about time the ‘listening speaker’ consulted those he was elected to serve – the MPs.