John Bercow, the former Tory MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, has joined the opposition Labour Party and delivered an extraordinary broadside against Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Bercow entered parliament as a Conservative in 1997 and served as speaker from 2009 to 2019 during which he had clashed with Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May over their approach to Brexit and treatment of parliament.
Many Conservatives and Brexit supporters thought Bercow lacked the political neutrality required by the position of speaker.
While Bercow worked as speaker he faced several accusations of bullying parliamentary employees, although he denied all the accusations.
He told the Observer newspaper in interview on Saturday that he joined the Labour party because he shares its values and views it as the only means to removing the current Tory government from office.
He said the Conservative Party is "reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic".
“I am motivated by support for equality, social justice and internationalism. That is the Labour brand,” he said. “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.”
He went on to say that in spite of the prime minister’s professed commitment to “leveling up,” he has no interest in those less privileged than himself.
‘‘He is a successful campaigner but a lousy governor,” he said. “I don’t think he has any vision of a more equitable society, any thirst for social mobility or any passion to better the lot of people less fortunate than he is. I think increasingly people are sick of lies, sick of empty slogans, sick of a failure to deliver.’’
He criticized the way Johnson’s government treats Parliament, saying it consistently hides the truth from MPs.
“I regard the government’s treatment of parliament as a disgrace. I believe the truth matters. I believe parliament matters. And I believe that telling the truth in and to parliament matters. There is growing, extensive and incontrovertible evidence that the government is disrespecting parliament, telling untruths to parliament and bypassing parliament. That is wrong. Period.”