The Spectator

Paging John Bercow (UPDATED)

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I don't know where John Bercow is having lunch right now, but a lot of people wish he'd switch his phone on. Perhaps thanks to Guido, there's a rumour flying around Westminster that he's the next to cross the floor and join Labour. Well, didn't Ed Balls omninously suggest there are more Tory MPs out there, wavering to join Labour like Quentin Davies? I've had a Shadow Cabinet member phone me and ask if it's true about Mr Bercow - Mr Bercow has a pro-Labour wife, apparently, and is known to wish Mr Cameron would go further in his modernising mission. I strongly suspect it's nonsense - "an inverted pyramid of piffle," as Boris would say. Mr Bercow has not been allowed to drift into the wilderness that Davies inhabited for so long. But this false alarm shows the high state of nerves in the Tory Party right now. You're a bad man, Guido. I'll update as soon as the man himself (as opposed to his office) denies the rumour.

UPDATE: Still no word from Bercow. So, therefore, the rumour grows. According to The Times, the latest Tory rumour is that he’ll be Brown’s International Development Secretary – his old brief under Howard. Likely? Last year he was named Opposition Politician of the Year by Channel Four and in his acceptance speech he had this to say: “The public is fed up with one politician simply ranting at another politician for the sake of it. The public deserves to see a more measured and constructive approach to politics.” Might he be up for his own version of bipartisanship? I still don’t believe it.

But bipartisanship all the rage at the moment. I interview James Purnell, the pensions minister universally tipped for promotion, in tomorrow’s Spectator, and he has this to say: “We do live in a much more plural society now. If people who are LibDems or Conservatives want to contribute to running the country, the public would think it really weird to say ‘well you have exceptional ability in a particular area, but we’re not going to talk to you because you happen to be not from our side of the political divide.” So expect more of this to come.