Johnson is ‘worst Prime Minister of my lifetime’ says Bercow
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As the former Speaker of the House of Commons – and, before that, Tory MP – turns 59 today, Wednesday, it is likely his political birthday wish will be that other Conservatives follow in his footsteps and leave their party behind. While Mr Bercow’s transition to Labour was a result of the Prime Minister’s personality, his comments have become all the more hostile since the explosion of the ‘Partygate’ scandal which has left much of the country enraged.
Mr Bercow announced in June last year that he was joining Labour.
He later told the Yorkshire Post that while the Conservative Party had not changed “fundamentally”, his own values had meandered enough to prevent him from feeling at home inside it.
He said: “I think the Tory party has regressed and move rightwards and that is very regrettable – they’re basically a pretty right-wing, nationalistic, Brexit sabre-rattling bunch of people.
“But by and large, although the Conservative Party has got worse, it hasn’t fundamentally changed. I have changed over the years.”
The former Speaker expressed his hope that his split might push others to swap sides with him.
Should the opportunity arise to talk to those thinking twice about their membership of the Tories, he said he would be more than happy to talk them into moving.
Mr Bercow said: “I would like to think that I could persuade some audiences but it is for my colleagues in the Labour Party to judge.
“I like to think I can persuade some audiences that if they have been able to attract me, somebody who was previously a Conservative, that local Labour MPs and candidates should be able to reach out to people who have previously voted Conservative and persuade those people.
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“This country isn’t doing as well as it should be doing. A progressive, forward-looking, constructive Labour Party can do a much better job.”
At the time, Mr Bercow was keen to stress that his decision to leave the Conservative Party was not related the personality of the Prime Minister.
He insisted that “I’ve always got on perfectly well with the Prime Minister on a one-to-one basis”, adding: “He’s never been rude or unpleasant to me.”
His tone has markedly changed since Mr Johnson admitted to having attended a “bring your own booze” party – what he claims to have believed was a “work event” – at Downing Street during the first national lockdown.
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Mr Bercow told LBC radio on Sunday that he believed Mr Johnson to be “the worst Prime Minister of my lifetime”.
He added that the Prime Minister is an “extreme narcissist” who has “a nodding acquaintance with the truth at best only in a leap year”.
This scandal has, it appears, boosted the importance of Tories shifting to Labour in Mr Bercow’s view, who believes it unlikely (to say the least) that Mr Johnson will do “as he should” and step down.
A resignation is unlikely to take place, the former speaker said, because the Prime Minister’s “natural instinct is always to protect himself and to seek to arrogate blame elsewhere”.
Mr Johsnson’s continuation in office comes in spite of numerous calls for him to resign – perhaps most significantly from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross.
Mr Ross said that, amid allegations of lockdown rule-breaking, Mr Johnson’s position had become “untenable”.
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