Tears in the Commons: Labour MPs stand up to applaud Tory MP’s speech
Labour MPs have granted Conservative MP Charles Walker a standing ovation after he said he had been "played as a fool" on the final sitting day of the parliament.
Opposition backbenchers rose to their feet to applaud Walker, the chair of the procedure committee, as he revealed he had been deceived by William Hague and colleagues.
The leader of the House and others met with Walker yesterday and did not reveal their plan to move a last-minute motion to introduce secret ballots for electing the Speaker – a move which Tory backbenchers could use to unseat John Bercow.
"This is not how they expected today to play out," Walker said.
"The government was hoping the party would be kept here under a three-line whip for a party meeting and others would have gone home. This does not reflect well on the government. But can I just say this: how you treat people in this place is important.
"This week, I went to the leader of the House's leaving drinks. I spent 20 minutes saying goodbye to his special adviser yesterday. I went into his private office and was passed by the deputy leader of the House, all of whom would have been aware of what they were proposing to do. I also had a number of friendly chats with our chief whip yesterday. And yet I find out at 6.30 last night that the leader of this House is bringing forward my report.
"I have been played as a fool. And when I go home tonight I will look in the mirror and see an honourable fool. And I would much rather be an honourable fool, Mr Speaker, in this and any other matter than a clever man."
That prompted the standing ovation from Labour MPs. Bercow was visibly moved as he called for order in the applause – an extremely rare event in the Commons chamber.