UK Politics

John Bercow: Some critical MPs are 'embittered and resentful'

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Media captionJohn Bercow describes MPs who continue to brief against him as "embittered and resentful"

Commons Speaker John Bercow has accused his critics of being "embittered and resentful" and refusing to accept he was elected in the first place.

Mr Bercow, who has held the office since 2009, suggested MPs "briefing" against him were driven by frustrations about their own political careers.

"If people are fair-minded they should not three years on be sulking about who won," he told the BBC's World at One.

He also defended reforms which had brought the Commons "off its knees".

Changes he had introduced - such as granting more urgent questions in the Commons - had given greater power to backbenchers and made ministers more accountable to Parliament, he insisted.

The former Conservative MP was elected to succeed Michael Martin in 2009 after he quit over Parliament's handling of the expenses scandal.

However, many Conservative MPs favoured other candidates at the time and Mr Bercow only secured the post with the backing of Labour members.

'Lingering grievance'

Since then, there have been grumblings on the Tory benches about his handling of Commons business and the number of times that ministers have been called to answer opposition questions - particularly on controversial issues such as phone hacking.

In an interview with Radio 4's World at One, Mr Bercow defended these changes and suggested some MPs could not disguise their disapproval of him as Speaker.

"People who never wanted me to win in the first place and, in many cases, strove very hard to stop me winning have tended to feel a lingering sense of grievance," he said.

Some of his critics, he suggested, were "perhaps people who have not been able to achieve what they want to achieve in their political career" and feel "their talents have not been recognised".

They, he added, perhaps did not like the fact that a "rather freewheeling, independent, perhaps in their minds disloyal, backbencher" had become Speaker.

He added: "Just as I don't bear a grudge against anyone who did not vote for me, I would argue that if people are fair-minded they should not three years on be sulking about who won.

"They have either vocalised their opinion in public or have constantly briefed against me behind the scenes. I have of course an idea about who some of these people are.

"And I think it is a sadness, a sadness for them that they are so embittered and resentful."

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