Earlier this week the MP for Buckingham attacked Iain Duncan Smith’s proposals for a tax allowance for marriage during a Conservative-sponsored debate on the relief of poverty (picture). In a recent debate on Europe he went out of his way to welcome British loss of powers on asylum policy and to support Quentin Davies’ European views:
"I happen to believe that asylum policy is also an area on which we should co-operate. It was referred to en passant by my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague), who spoke from the Front Bench about the pursuit of a common European asylum policy as though that were somehow a bad thing. Actually, as I have been arguing for the last two years in pamphlets and elsewhere, it would be a good thing. Why? Asylum is a phenomenon that confronts all EU member states and a great many other countries to boot. If we want seriously and effectively to tackle the growing phenomenon of asylum shopping, to share the responsibility for people seeking sanctuary, and to sign up to and enforce the principle of non-refoulement, we need some sort of collective agreement.
I strongly agree with a great deal of what my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Mr. Davies) had to say."
Another MP tells me that Mr Bercow was completely silent during a tearoom discussion after Quentin Davies had defected.
Mr Bercow has already been on a long political journey. In the 1980s he supported a group that argued for the voluntary repatriation of black and Asian people, the repeal of the Race Relations Act and the abolition of the commission for racial equality. Since then he has become the party’s leading advocate of homosexual rights and resigned from the shadow cabinet in 2002 at protest at IDS’ opposition to gay adoption. A defection to the Labour party would not be difficult for a man who has supported the Iraq war and who has opposed tax cuts.
Mr Bercow has often denied that he will defect but the consensus amongst a growing number of Conservative MPs is that he will defect at a time of maximum embarrassment for the Conservative Party. This post should carry a large speculation warning but I thought you’d all like to know.