A Tory MP is seeking support for a Commons motion expressing no confidence in Speaker John Bercow because of his perceived “bias” over Brexit.
Former minister Crispin Blunt, a strong Leave supporter, said he intended to table an early day motion (EDM) when MPs return to Westminster on Tuesday following the Easter break.
EDM’s – which are not allocated any time in the parliamentary timetable – are rarely debated or voted on, but are used by MPs as a vehicle to express their views on a particular issue.
Strong support for a motion of no confidence would be highly embarrassing for Mr Bercow, adding to the pressure on him to say when he intends to step down.
Mr Blunt’s intervention follows a series of controversial rulings by the Speaker which were widely considered to favour Remain supporters.
Tory Brexiteers were further angered by reports that Mr Bercow – who had previously indicated he would stand down in the summer after 10 years in the post – now intends to carry on.
Mr Blunt confirmed that he has now written to all MPs seeking their support for his EDM.
In his email, he said he hoped to get a “minimum” of 100 MPs to sign to make it a “substantial motion” and to provide “cover” for others who wished to join them.
In a statement, Mr Blunt acknowledged they were in “totally unprecedented territory”, but said the impartiality of the Speaker was an “indispensable condition” for workings of the House.
Even his most partisan supporters for the positive changes he has delivered as Speaker do not now seriously dispute his bias
“Even his most partisan supporters for the positive changes he has delivered as Speaker do not now seriously dispute his bias in the conduct of our affairs,” he said.
“But it now goes way beyond the Brexit debate. The public should never underestimate how far reaching the implications of these powers are for our democracy.
“The holder of this great office decides which MPs can speak in the House of Commons Chamber during debates and selects the amendments that MPs vote on, giving the Speaker the effective power to shape legislation.
“If colleagues are too cowed or too content with the direction of his bias to state their view on Speaker Bercow’s obvious partiality, then not only will he feel able to continue, as is being reported in the media, but also feel able to do so exercising the power of his office wholly inappropriately.
“MPs will have failed to stand up for our most basic standards and have no one to blame but ourselves.”
Mr Bercow’s office declined to comment on the statement.