Former U.K House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, a lifelong Conservative legislator who rose to international prominence as a neutral arbitrator in the country’s tumultuous Brexit political drama, said Sunday that he had switched allegiances and joined the opposition Labour Party.
Bercow served as a Conservative member of Parliament for 12 years until being elected to the impartial position of Speaker of the House of Commons in 2009, where he is responsible for overseeing the House’s business and interpreting its rules of procedure.
The former MP said the Conservative Party under Johnson was “reactionary, populist, patriotic, and sometimes even xenophobic” in an interview with the Observer newspaper published on Sunday.
Bercow, who stepped down as speaker in October 2019 after 10 years, said he joined the Labour Party a few weeks ago because he shared its values.
“I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and internationalism. That is the Labour brand,” he told the Observer.
“The conclusion I have reached is that this government needs to be replaced. The reality is that the Labour Party is the only vehicle that can achieve that objective. There is no other credible option.”
In an interview with Sky News, Bercow insisted his decision was “not personal against Boris Johnson”.
But in scathing comments, he said Johnson had “only a nodding acquaintance with the truth in a leap year” and the way he treated parliament “with contempt” was “lamentable”.
Bercow also told The Observer the prime minister was “a successful campaigner but a lousy governor”, criticising policies such as cutting the international aid budget.
Bercow began his political career in the 1980s as a right-wing acolyte of then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, but has moved to the left over the years.
He angered some on the political right by saying in 2017 that then-President Donald Trump shouldn’t be allowed to address Parliament, an honor given to some of his predecessors, including Barack Obama.