After a year out of the headlines, John Bercow is back. The former Commons Speaker appeared on the Observer front page in June to announce his membership of the Labour party, eighteen months after retiring from Parliament.
The onetime Tory right winger is still smarting over the government’s refusal to award him a peerage and thus a seat for life in the Lords to happily chunter away. There is now speculation as to whether Bercow’s revised goal is a return to the Commons under Labour colours – as if his former colleagues there had not suffered enough.
One story Bercow will have been less pleased about was the news last month that he has broken his promise not to claim his gold-plated Speaker’s pension until he is 65. The former Buckingham MP, who is still only 58, promised in 2012 to save the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds by not receiving the benefit until 2028. Yet he has in fact been taking the final salary pension – worth over £35,000 a year – since he retired as Speaker aged 56 in November 2019.
A ‘Speaker’s Pension’ statement at the time acknowledged that as Bercow was just 46 when he became Speaker and had originally intended to serve no more than nine years, he would still be in his mid-50s when he stood down, be able to earn a new income and ‘also be in receipt of the Speaker pension at a relatively young age’.
Now though, out of office, the famously flexible constitutionalist has (shockingly) changed his mind – despite abolishing the perk for successor Lindsay Hoyle and others in 2013. Given Bercow’s return to straightforward party politics, Steerpike thought it worth looking at how much the ex-Speaker has claimed in the interests of transparency.
Leaving aside his 12 years as Conservative MP for Buckingham until 2009, Bercow collected two salaries over the following decade: one as an MP, for which he received £771,000, and one as the Speaker, for which he got £824,00.