Bercow becomes first Jewish speaker of UK House of Commons
46-year-old MP for Buckingham succeeds Michael Martin, who was forced to resign due to his handling of the MPs' expenses scandal.
By JPOST STAFF, JONNY PAUL, AP
June 22, 2009 23:28
1 minute read.
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Conservative MP John Bercow was elected as the first Jewish speaker of the House of Commons in the 302-year history of the British parliament's lower chamber on Monday.
Bercow, the 46-year-old member for Buckingham, succeeded Michael Martin, who was forced to resign due to his handling of the MPs expenses scandal.
The son of a Jewish taxi driver, Bercow finished first in all three rounds of voting by the 646 MPs, defeating Tory backbencher Sir George Young after early favorite Margaret Beckett withdrew.
"I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the confidence that you placed in me," Bercow said after the results were announced.
Ten British lawmakers vied Monday to become the new speaker of the House of Commons, after the incumbent was ousted amid a scandal over lawmakers' excessive expense claims.
Each of the candidates has promised sweeping reforms aimed at restoring public trust in the country's tainted politics.
In a speech congratulating his election as speaker, Conservative Party leader David Cameron paid tribute to Bercow for becoming the first Jewish speaker of the House.
"I would also like to put on record an historical first that you have achieved which is to be the first person of the Jewish faith to occupy the office of speaker of the House of Commons and it is a milestone that we should mark," Cameron told Parliament.
The previous speaker, Scottish lawmaker Martin, was the first presiding officer forced out in more than 300 years. He was blamed for failing to push through reforms to the expense system, and had made repeated attempts to block publication of expenses before being overruled by Britain's courts.
Documents leaked to a newspaper last month revealed that lawmakers had billed the public for items including pornographic movies, horse manure and repairs to tennis courts.