The colourful career of Commons Speaker John Bercow
By Diane Cooke
Commons Speaker John Bercow is a colourful character who has grabbed many a national newspaper headline over the years.
Earlier this year he drew criticism after voicing his opposition to US president Donald Trump addressing Parliament during his state visit.
In 2011 the Speaker agreed that hunting foxes to kill them was “wrong in the 21st century”, amid calls for the ban to be repealed.
His comments represented a U-turn from his previous opposition to the ban and showed him abandon his supposed neutrality on controversial political issues.
And in 2013 Ukip leader Nigel Farage branded him a “disgrace” after Bercow suggested that eastern European immigrants had more “aptitude and commitment” to work than British people during an official visit to the Romanian parliament.
Farage said the “outrageous” comments breached the traditional impartiality expected from the Commons Speaker.
Bercow’s use of expenses has also raised eyebrows – particularly as he took office at the height of the scandal over Westminster perks.
He racked up a £172 bill being chauffeur-driven to a conference just 0.7 miles (1.1km) from Parliament.
Bercow also spent £367 taking a car to Luton to deliver a speech on how MPs were restoring their reputation after the expenses scandal.
He spent thousands of pounds wining and dining fellow MPs – including more than £2,000 on a “standing down” dinner for his former deputy.
It was as a schoolboy in Finchley, then the constituency of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, that Bercow became involved in politics. He joined the right-wing Monday Club, but later left, describing the views of some members as "unpalatable".
At Essex University Mr Bercow became chairman of the Federation of Conservative Students, an organisation closed down in 1986 by Conservative Party chairman Norman Tebbit because of its radical stances and sometimes raucous behaviour.
Mr Bercow was elected Conservative MP for Buckingham in 1997. But in the early 2000s his political views altered. He became a champion of gay rights and said a clampdown on cannabis smokers would be "absurd".
After entering the shadow cabinet, he called for Conservative MPs to be banned from membership of the Monday Club.
After becoming Speaker in 2009, he updated his own attire by wearing a business suit, rather than the knee breeches and tights worn by his predecessors.