Published On: Sun, Aug 25th, 2019

Brexit latest: Insiders claim Speaker held talks about defecting to Labour | UK | News

The talks were led by then Children, Schools and Families Secretary Ed Balls as Mr Brown prepared to succeed Tony Blair as leader and wanted to claim an MP from the opposition. Mr Bercow would have been offered a job under Mr Balls and a safe seat in the north to entice him according to the Mail on Sunday. The source claimed: “Bercow is basically a Labour-sympathising Remainer.

“Bercow was on the brink of defecting from the Tories and only pulled out when they wouldn’t promise him a ministerial job.”

Friends of the Speaker rushed to Mr Bercow’s defence dismissing the reports as “ancient history” and claiming Labour instigated the talks with a group of female Labour MPs holding discussions with the Buckingham MP.

One friend said: “It is ridiculous to suggest that talking to Labour 12 years ago makes John some sort of left Brexit saboteur. At the time he was a mainstream Tory Eurosceptic.

“Also, he had promised his local party association that he would not jump ship and by then he was set on being Speaker, which was much more likely to happen from the Tory benches.”

READ MORE: Pipsqueak Speaker’s an arrogant menace, says NICK FERRARI

A spokesman for Mr Bercow declined to comment on these defection discussions, and Mr Brown’s defection came from Quentin Davies, who was Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary under Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard and had been a Tory MP for 20 years at the time of his defection.

Mr Davies was made Defence Equipment and Support Minister in October 2008 but did not stand for re-election in the 2010 general election.

Weeks later he was made a life peer as Baron Davies of Stamford.

The previous Tory MP to defect to Labour was Robert Jackson in 2005, but Mr Jackson did not stand in that year’s general election either.

Before this, Shaun Woodward defected in 2001 but choose not to stand in his Witney seat, which went to David Cameron. Instead he won the safe seat of St Helens South, which he held for 14 years.

Indeed, no MP has ever left the Tories for Labour and remained in the same seat following the next general election.

The Mail on Sunday reports that Mr Bercow’s wife, Sally Bercow, was keen on the switch at the time.

With the Tories being in opposition during Mr Bercow’s time as a party MP, he never held a ministerial role under them, but he was Shadow Treasury Chief Secretary and Shadow International Development Secretary.

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