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Speaker praised for quick retreat

HOUSE of Commons Speaker John Bercow has been praised for executing an "evacuation from a hopeless position" as he was bombarded with questions from MPs on a replacement for the Commons head clerk.

Mr Bercow was earlier heckled by MPs as he announced a "modest pause" to the recruitment process to replace Sir Robert Rogers as the Commons' most senior official.

The Speaker has faced quickly mounting pressure over the decision to recommend Australian official Carol Mills to the £200,000 a year post, amid claims she was not qualified to rule on constitutionally critical matters in the chamber.

Tory MP Crispin Blunt said: "In the history of the British Army, some of the most celebrated actions from Corunna to Gallipoli to Dunkirk have involved evacuations from hopeless positions.

"Can I congratulate you on successful disengagement from the opposition forces you have run across. But to complete a successful evacuation of your position, I would urge you there are very many of us who do not take the same view... and it would not be necessary to cover the evacuation for there to be an unnecessary reorganisation of the affairs of the House."

Mr Bercow replied: "I appreciate what you have said and the good humour with which it has been said.

"Of course, I am aware there are different views. My responsibility is to hear and to seek to heed them. That is what I propose to do."

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Local government

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