A new speaker has been elected to Britain’s lower house of parliament, promising reform in the wake of an expenses scandal that has dented public trust in politicians.
After seeing off nine other candidates, conservative maverick John Bercow was dragged to the speaker’s chair of the House of Commons, according to tradition. A former right-winger turned moderate, Bercow won the vote despite a lack of support from his own side. Many opposition conservatives believe he is too close to the ruling Labour Party. Media reports say some of Bercow’s parliamentary colleagues are already plotting to oust him. Like many other members of parliament, Bercow has faced critisism over his expenses. He replaces Michael Martin, who became the first Commons speaker to be forced out in more than 300 years, amid dissatisfaction over his handling of the expenses affair. Politicians from all the big parties have pledged to clean up parliament after revelations about how they made the most of taxpayer-funded allowance claims.