Clash of the Speakers as Boothroyd slates Bercow's uniform

Boothroyd is a popular figure in Westminster
Boothroyd is a popular figure in Westminster

By Charles Maggs

John Bercow should show some pride in his uniform and revert to the traditional speaker's dress – according to former speaker of the House Betty Boothroyd.

Bercow opted to dull down the dress code for the role when he was elected to the position in 2009 as part of his drive to make parliament more accessible to the public, suggesting that the over-the-top kit was off-putting.

But Boothroyd, who held the office for eight years, believes he should have kept the old outfit.


"I like to see a Speaker in uniform," she told the Birmingham Mail.

"I will never forget when Bercow was elected Speaker. I was at a defence establishment and they said 'Look Betty, we are proud of our uniforms, why isn't the Speaker?'

"Seven hundred years of history there. It's not asking too much for him to, everyday, wear the white shirt and the weepers, dark suit and the proper Speaker’s train every day. That's what I expect. Be proud of the uniform you wear!"

Betty is now Baroness Boothroyd after becoming a peer in 2000 and said she is now ready to retire from politics, but there is no process of retirement in the House of Lords.

She served as Labour MP for West Bromwich for 27 years, including her time as Speaker, and is widely revered by parliamentarians on all sides of the House for her conduct in the role.

Despite calling for reform in terms of allowing peers to retire, Boothroyd has gone on record many times as opposing an elected House of Lords – a prospect which now seems unlikely due to a recent Conservative rebellion. 

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