Emotional John Bercow thanks family and staff at final PMQs as Speaker

John Bercow welled up in the House of Commons as he thanked his family and staff at his last Prime Minister Questions after a decade in the chair. 

The Speaker’s voice cracked with emotion as he paid tribute to his family for displaying “support, stoicism and fortitude through thick and thin” over the last 10 years.

His wife Sally and their three children watched from the gallery on Wednesday as politicians across the chamber praised him for his service in the role. 

Mr Bercow said he would “never forget it and I’ll always be grateful for it”.

Mr Bercow makes some personal remarks to thank staff, members and family members in the House of Commons in London (AFP via Getty Images)

The Prime Minister praised the Speaker, an avid Roger Federer fan, with tennis metaphors. 

Boris Johnson said: “As a distinguished former Wimbledon competitor, you have sat up there in your high chair, not just as an umpire ruthlessly adjudicating on the finer points of Parliamentary procedure with your trademark Tony Montana scowl.”

“Not just as a commentator, offering your own opinions on the rallies you are watching, sometimes acerbic and sometimes kind, and sometimes as a player in your own right,” he added.

“Pounding every part of the chamber with your own forceful opinions like some tennis ball machine.”

Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Cobyn also began his questions by paying tribute to Mr Bercow, thanking him for the way he used the speakership during his tenure.

Mr Corbyn said: “You’ve done so much to reform this House of Commons and our democracy is the stronger for the way that you’ve done it.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he speaks during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions session (AFP via Getty Images)

He also joked: “You’ve served for ten years, you’ve given real power to backbenchers, vastly expanded the use of urgent questions which has been overwhelmingly popular with all government ministers. “

Father of the House and former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke also said to Mr Bercow: “During your decade, there have been unprecedented attempts really to try to, at times, increase the power of the Executive at the expense of this Parliament. 

“You have been very formidable in maintaining the duty of government to be accountable to this House. 

“I trust your successor will try to live up to your very considerable achievement.”

Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn is seen at the House of Commons (REUTERS)

In September, Mr Bercow announced his intention to step down on October 31. 

There had been speculation that he could stay on as Commons Speaker after the UK’s departure from the EU was delayed. 

MPs sat through the longest ever session of PMQs. Mr Bercow allowed proceedings to last 71 minutes.

Speaker John Bercow leading MPs in observing a minute’s silence at the start of the debate on the Grenfell Tower inquiry (PA)

It smashed the previous record of 64 minutes, which was set on July 24, 2019 – Theresa May’s last appearance as prime minister.

PMQs has got steadily longer during Mr Bercow’s decade as Speaker.

From an average of just over 30 minutes in 2009 and 2010, sessions reached 33 minutes in 2012 and 35 minutes in 2015.

The running time then jumped to an average of 38 minutes in 2016, 43 minutes in 2017 and 45 minutes in 2018, before ballooning to 49 minutes this year.

MPs are due to elect Mr Bercow’s successor next week – though they will have to wait until after the general election to see if the new Speaker will continue to let PMQs run long or prefer a return to the traditional half-hour.


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