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John Bercow’s most controversial moments as Speaker

John Bercow's tenure as Speaker has been colourful and often controversial. Credit: PA

John Bercow's departure as Speaker of the House of Commons after more than 10 years ends one of the most colourful tenures in the chair.

His heightened speech in debates got him noticed, while he became attached to a number of controversies over the years since he took up the role in 2009.

  • Backing the hunting ban
Bercow in 2009. Credit: PA

Mr Bercow risked angering Tory MPs by revealing he was a supporter of the hunting ban to one of his constituents.

The Speaker said he agreed hunting foxes to kill them was “wrong in the 21st century” amid calls for the ban to be repealed in 2011.

  • His "terrible" wife
Sally Bercow described herself as a poor partner to tennis-fanatic John Bercow. Credit: PA

Mr Bercow’s wife was thrown into the spotlight when she posed for London’s Evening Standard wearing nothing but a bed sheet.

Sally Bercow described the “aphrodisiac” effect of their life at the Palace of Westminster and described the view from the Speaker’s House as “incredibly sexy”.

But in 2015 she said he hated living in Parliament, describing it as a “goldfish bowl” amid reports of trouble in the couple’s marriage when she admitted being a “terrible wife”.

  • Expenses scandal

Mr Bercow’s use of expenses has also raised eyebrows – particularly as he took office at the height of the scandal over Westminster perks.

He racked up a £172 bill being chauffeur-driven to a conference just 0.7 miles from Parliament.

He also spent £367 taking a car to Luton to deliver a speech on how MPs were restoring their reputation after the expenses scandal.

Mr Bercow spent thousands of pounds wining and dining fellow MPs – including more than £2,000 on a “standing down” dinner for his former deputy.

  • The 'vain' portrait
Brendan Kelly’s portrait of the Speaker. Credit: House of Commons/PA

A taxpayer-funded £37,000 portrait of the Speaker led to accusations of “vanity”.

The official painting, by British artist Brendan Kelly, joined those of his predecessors going back to Sir Thomas More and featured a new coat of arms developed for Mr Bercow.

  • His message to China

Introducing Chinese Premier Xi Jinping ahead of his address to Parliament in 2015, Mr Bercow said the Asian superpower should be a “moral inspiration” and “the world will be watching” – an apparent reference to Beijing’s poor human rights record.

  • Opposing Donald Trump's state visit
US President Donald Trump with then-prime minister Theresa May during his state visit Credit: Frank Augustein/PA

The Speaker was criticised for voicing his opposition to the suggestion that US President Donald Trump might address Parliament during a 2017 state visit.

In his Westminster office in 2009. Credit: PA
  • Sticking it to Brexit

Mr Bercow faced calls to resign in January after he was found to have a “B*****ks to Brexit” sticker in his car window.

“That sticker on the subject of Brexit happens to be affixed to or in the windscreen of my wife’s car,” he explained to MPs.

“She is entitled to her views: that sticker is not mine – and that’s the end of it.”

State Opening of Parliament in 2010. Credit: PA
  • Stopping a third vote on Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement

In March, he thwarted then-prime minister Theresa May’s attempt to bring a third meaningful vote to Parliament.

He described it as “the same proposition or substantially the same proposition” as the second.

He has also been considered a thorn in Boris Johnson's side, particularly when he rejected his attempt to put his Brexit deal forward for a meaningful vote.

Former Prime Minister David Cameron said he used to wake up daily wondering what Mr Bercow would do “to make my life hell today”.

“I almost, sort of, got out of bed every morning and thought, whatever John Bercow, whatever the Speaker can do to make my life hell today, he will do,” Mr Cameron said.

  • Bullying accusations

Mr Bercow has faced accusations that he bullied staff - allegations he has always strongly denied

He has faced claims – strongly denied – that he bullied two former officials.

  • Off with his head - before going up in flames
Only John Bercow's open mouth remained in the Edenbridge effigy. Credit: PA

While all political careers are famously destined to end in failure, Mr Bercow is guaranteed to go off in flames.

In the week he bows out as Speaker, he was unveiled as the effigy for the annual Edenbridge Bonfire Society in Kent, holding the heads of Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

Bercow's likeness then suffered a brutal beheading himself, flapping off from the stick frame.

But his head was soon repaired, restored and back in full working "order, order", to be burned in front of bonfire crowds.

John Bercow's bruised head was repaired and restored. Credit: PA