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John Bercow MP - The Speaker's Tearful Resignation Speech, 2019

Embodying Passion and Resilience in British Politics.

As a definitive figure in British political heritage, John Simon Bercow has carved an influential path defined by resilience, passion, and an unwavering commitment to public service. His role as Speaker of the House of Commons and Member of Parliament has significantly shaped the country's political discourse and legislation. Bercow's impassioned resignation speech in 2019 underscored his decade-long tenure as Speaker, marking a poignant chapter in Britain's parliamentary history.

A Journey Through British Politics

Born on 19 January 1963, Bercow's political aspirations started early, marked by his tenure as a councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth from 1986 to 1990. Though initially unsuccessful in the 1987 and 1992 general elections, Bercow’s tenacity ultimately led to his election as the Member of Parliament for Buckingham in 1997.

Initially a member of the Conservative Party, Bercow climbed the political ladder, holding posts in the Shadow Cabinet under Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. A turning point came in November 2002 when he resigned over a dispute concerning his support for the Adoption and Children Act 2002. His dismissal from the Shadow Cabinet in 2004 signalled a shift in his political stance, sparking rumours of a potential defection to the Labour Party.

Ascendancy to the Speaker’s Chair

In June 2009, following the resignation of Michael Martin, Bercow successfully sought election as Speaker of the House of Commons. This made him the first Member of Parliament since Selwyn Lloyd in 1971 to secure the role without having been a Deputy Speaker. His election required him to relinquish his affiliation with the Conservative Party, maintaining political independence throughout his tenure.

As Speaker, Bercow was re-elected unopposed at the commencements of the Parliaments in 2010, 2015, and 2017. This achievement distinguished him as the first Speaker since the Second World War to have been elected four times and to serve alongside four Prime Ministers.

A Tearful Resignation and a Legacy Forged

Bercow’s announcement of his impending resignation as Speaker and Member of Parliament in September 2019 was a moment of raw emotion. Despite the stern facade of British politics, his tearful speech highlighted his deep-seated passion for public service and the poignancy of his departure. He officially resigned from the Speaker's chair and his role as an MP on 31 October, leaving Parliament entirely after choosing not to seek re-election in the 2019 general election.

An Academic Chapter and Controversy

Beyond the political arena, Bercow ventured into academia, serving as Chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire in 2014 and the University of Essex from 2017 to 2021. He later assumed the role of a part-time professor of politics at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2020.

Bercow’s career, however, was not without controversy. In 2022, an independent Commons complaints body found him guilty of persistently bullying staff over a decade. The subsequent suspension from the Labour Party, which he had joined in 2021, tarnished his political legacy.

Bercow's Influence on British Heritage

John Bercow’s robust presence has significantly influenced British political heritage. His tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons redefined the role, reflecting his unwavering commitment to procedural integrity and his sharp, commanding oratory. Despite the controversies that clouded his career's latter part, Bercow’s political journey, punctuated by his emotive resignation speech, remains etched in the annals of British politics. His legacy serves as a testament to the dynamic, sometimes tumultuous nature of public service, shaping the future discourse of Britain's political landscape.

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The seeks to recognize individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields, and whose actions, in addition to their achievements, embody the character of the British people through commitment to British values, the British community and/or to Great Britain. Beyond demonstrated qualities of achievement and commitment, the serves to recognize the British Heritage contribution to the betterment of mankind.