The Commons has gone beyond uproar on the vote on the secret ballot to re-elect the speaker. There has been clapping, a standing ovation, and tears. Charles Walker, chair of the Procedure Committee, told MPs that he had been ‘played for a fool by the whips and the party leadership who had had meetings with him or bumped into him in Parliament without mentioning that they intended to debate his report today, or indeed to use it as a means of introducing a secret ballot on the re-election of the Speaker’. He was visibly emotional as he spoke.
Zac Goldsmith told the Chamber he supported the principle but not the way in which this vote was being brought before the House. And this is the key. Many MPs who support the principle of a secret ballot or who don’t like the way Bercow behaves are furious with this motion because it undermines Parliament and has played one of its most respected members for a fool. It is also making William Hague’s last day in the Commons look dreadful, and the leader of the House has grown increasingly glum-looking as the session has progressed.
MPs are voting now.