Watch the reaction when Sky reporter Aubrey Allegretti asked John Bercow to clear up if he’s definitely resigning as Speaker next summer. He didn’t answer and instead his aide aggressively shoved the reporter away. This is revealing on a number of levels.
Firstly, the video reveals that he condones this kind of unnecessarily aggressive behaviour from his staff. Secondly it confirms that Bercow is unwilling to give an on the record confirmation of when he intends to step down. It has been widely reported that “John Bercow has told friends he intends to stand down as Commons Speaker next summer”. The use of “friends” by political journalists often means the subject himself is giving an unattributable comment or he has authorised someone the comment on his behalf. By avoiding giving an on the record commitment to go he will be able to say next year that he gave no such commitment, despite it being widely reported this week.
Bercow’s ruse is intended to merely take the heat out of the moment following publication of the Cox report and leading parliamentarians calling for him to go. Not the usual awkward squad, people like Maria Miller. By letting it be known without personally committing that he intends to go soon, he discourages MPs from making a move against him. A push against the Speaker requires substantial effort and involves the risk of retribution or a loss of preferment. The Speaker enjoys almost monarchical powers in parliament, he is the prince of the Palace of Westminster. Wounding him without removing him means he will be able to exact revenge and that is very much within his bullying nature. Unless there is a concerted and organised cross-party effort Bercow will stay in office for as many years as he can. He has no intention of stepping down whatever his “friends” tell the press.