United Kingdom

Shameless ex-Speaker John Bercow hails his new Labour activist 'comrades' and vows to join a union

Political turncoat John Bercow shamelessly hailed his new Labour 'comrades' last night - but insisted he had not quit the Tories in search of a safe Commons seat.

The former right wing Tory MP made his debut at the opposition party's conference in Brighton by offering advice on how to defeat the 'worst Government of his lifetime'.

Mr Bercow attracted the ire of Brexiteers as he stretched the neutrality of the Speaker's role over the timing and manner of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

But he claimed he was not after a cushy return to the green benches - and what would surely be a hostile reception - telling a fringe event he had no plan to return to parliament.

But he claimed he 'absolutely' planned to join a trade union - and suggested people should not get too upset by Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner calling his former Tory friends 'scum'.

The former right wing Tory MP made his debut at the opposition party's conference in Brighton by offering advice on how to defeat the 'worst Government of his lifetime'.

Mr Bercow attracted the ire of Brexiteers as he stretched the neutrality of the Speaker's role over the timing and manner of the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

He insisted Labour has got to 'excite' people and come forward at the next general election with a 'limited number' of 'very clear' policies.

He said: 'The Conservative Party always used to be said to be ''cruel but efficient''.

'Now, if they do not lose their reputation for being cruel, and there is no imminent likelihood of that loss, they have acquired a reputation for being inefficient, incompetent and incompetent on an industrial scale.

'The task of the political craftsmanship of the Labour Party is to expose those errors clinically, repeatedly, persistently.'

Mr Bercow then noted that, as former prime minister Margaret Thatcher discovered, big majorities can lead to 'arrogance and dismissiveness and carelessness'.

He went on: 'And I think that this Government, with its very large majority, will fall victim to that arrogance, that presumption.'

On what the party should do next, he said: 'The Labour Party has got to excite people. It has got to excite people. It is not good enough to just have a good set of good policies.

'In fact, I would go as far as to say, that my feeling is that the Labour Party in the next election doesn't need to have a a vastly, detailed, lengthy manifesto with dozens and dozens of commitments.'

The former Commons Speaker added: 'The Labour Party has got to thrust to the fore alongside Keir who is a formidable prosecutor, a formidable advocate, and other personalities part of the leadership team, which can reach out to people and persuade people that they are different from and preferable to this shower, which frankly represents the worst government of my lifetime.'

On Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Bercow said he is a 'good guy' but that the Labour Party has got to develop a 'narrative' and clear policies'.

When asked about Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, who recently described senior Tories as 'scum', Mr Bercow said he would have not chosen that term but insisted people should not get on their 'moral high horses' about it.

He said: 'I wouldn't have used that term, but I think that people are passionate.

'I know Angela well and she's a passionate person and she believes in her values and she feels very, very angry about what is being done to this country by a Conservative Government.

'Do I think Angela Rayner, should be damned to perdition for that one comment?

'Absolutely not. I think Angela Rayner is a damn good person, she has got strong and good values.

'I wouldn't have used that expression but I don't think we should get on our moral high horses about it.'

The former Conservative MP for Buckingham, who repeatedly addressed the audience as 'comrades', revealed he had no interest in a career in the Labour Party and did not intend to stand for Parliament again.

However, he said he 'absolutely' wanted to join a trade union in the near future but had not done so yet.

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