JOHN Bercow must satisfy MPs that he is neutral enough to remain Commons Speaker after publicly stating he voted Remain in the EU referendum, a cabinet minister has warned.
David Lidington, the Leader of the Commons, predicted a “strong” reaction in the House after a video surfaced of Mr Bercow giving his views earlier this month.
The Speaker, who already faces a no confidence vote after accusing President Trump of racism and sexism, told students at Reading University on February 3: "Personally, I voted to remain. I thought it was better to stay in the European Union than not."
Loading article content
He also said immigration was a good thing, said there were “untruths” during the campaign, and expressed concern Labour that had not done more to strike a “resonant Remain note".
He said: “I think for all the weaknesses and deficiencies of the EU, it's better to be part of that big power bloc in the world than thinking you can act as effectively on your own."
Mr Lidington told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "There will be strong reaction among some MPs to what he said at Reading, particularly after what he said about the state visit [by Mr Trump] earlier in the week. Ultimately, the Speaker has to command the confidence of the House of Commons as a whole.
"John has his very strong supporters as well as his strong critics in the House of Commons, but we shall have to see how members as a whole respond.
"It is really important for the very independence of the Speaker's office that the Speaker, whether they start as a Conservative MP, a Labour MP, or whatever, is independent of Government. Speakers, if anything, should be towards the people who are not in Government, as, actually John Bercow probably has done in the way that he has used urgent questions that we have found inconvenient."
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said Mr Bercow "absolutely" had the backing of MPs, calling him “one of the great Speakers the House of Commons has seen”.
The Parliament website states that, as the chief officer and highest authority of the House of Commons, the Speaker "must remain politically impartial at all times", even in retirement.
Tory MP James Duddridge, who tabled the motion of no confidence in the Speaker over his Trump comments, told BBC Radio 5 Mr Bercow was "no longer impartial".
He said: “I think there will be a vote of no confidence and I think he will go.
“There's absolutely no way Speaker Bercow can sit in the chair on European issues.
“When you become Speaker you must be impartial. He's no longer impartial, he's no longer able to continue to do the role, which is why I think the House will vote him down in a vote of no confidence. In reality he may see the lie of the land and go before he's pushed.”
Former Tory Culture Secretary John Whittingdale,who campaigned for Leave, said “the scoresheet [against Mr Bercow] is mounting up”.
Mr Bercow's spokeswoman said his vote had no impact on his ability to deal fairly with MPs.
She said: "Mr Bercow voted in the EU referendum, along with millions of others.
"The record shows that he has rigorously facilitated the raising of concerns of those on both sides of this argument, as he does on every other issue.
"The Speaker's impartiality is required on matters of debate before the House, and he has been scrupulous in ensuring that both sides of the argument are always heard."