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Tributes to the Speaker

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:51 pm on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Tracey Crouch Tracey Crouch Conservative, Chatham and Aylesford 12:51 pm, 31st October 2019

Mr Speaker did not write it but, like some other hon. Members, I have had him sign a couple of copies for auction. The book has quotes that he has said over many years and then, on the next page, some self-help. For example, as we have heard Mr Speaker say many times, “Calm down man”—a quote that will follow you around for some time—may be on one page, and then there will be a mindfulness lesson about how to breathe properly in order to calm yourself down. We can all learn from elements of “Be More Bercow” but one lesson that is not in there is how not to go to the toilet for over nine hours. Mr Speaker, you have the bladder of a camel. Had you not announced your retirement, we ought to have thought about reinstating the commode that was under the Speaker’s Chair once upon a time.

You are an extraordinary character, Mr Speaker, and I have sat here since 9.30 am listening to some incredible tributes to you, but it is about time that I offered some balance. It is true that you have been a champion of Back Benchers, and you are also a champion of sport, which I really appreciated when I was Sports Minister—I am still very sorry for playing football here in the Chamber. However, Mr Speaker, you are still a gooner. I would like all Speaker candidates to promise me that the next Speaker will not allow another debate paying tribute to Arsène Wenger or, indeed, any other Arsenal manager, particularly if the Sports Minister who has to reply to it is, like me, a lifelong Tottenham fan.

I do not refer to those I employ as my staff. I think of them very much as part of my team. In this place, we are nothing without those in our team, so I take this opportunity to pay tribute not just to you, but to Jim, Peter and Ian, who work for you. There are others whose names I do not know, but I am sure that they keep you under control. I also thank Rev. Rose, who is very much part of our team in Parliament. I have taken great comfort from her spiritual guidance, and I will be forever grateful that she christened my son Freddie. I thank her and thank you, sir, and I wish you well in whatever happens next.