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Senior Tory claims Speaker could be unseated by his own party

THE threat to John Bercow's position as Commons Speaker has been underlined with the suggestion from a senior Tory that his own party could seek to unseat him at the General Election.

Mr Bercow, who ­represents Buckingham, is at the centre of a row over the replacement of the most senior official of the Commons, the Clerk; the nomination of Australian Carol Mills by a panel headed by the Speaker has infuriated some MPs, who believe she lacks the parliamentary knowledge to undertake the role successfully. The job combines the role of constitutional advisor to the chamber and chief executive of the Commons.

On Monday, as MPs return from their summer recess, the Public Administration Committee will meet to discuss whether or not there should be a pre-appointment hearing. Also, a parliamentary motion is due to be tabled supported by scores of MPs to the same effect.

No 10 has added to the row by making clear David Cameron believes any appointment should have the wide support of MPs. It has been suggested that, privately, the Prime Minister holds the Speaker in low esteem.

In a bid to defuse the row, Mr Bercow has let it be known he is willing to split the £200,000-a-year role to create two posts.

And Mr Bercow is now expected to make a statement on the matter next week.

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Local government

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