John Bercow breaks pledge to delay pension – then claims his wife Sally made him do it
- The 58-year-old former Speaker is entitled to a £35,000-a-year annual pension
- He initially said he was not claiming the pension until he reached the age of 65
- Mr Bercow said after speaking to his wife he decided to accept the pension
- Tory MPs have expressed anger over Mr Bercow’s decision to accept his pension
John Bercow is at the centre of a fresh storm after ‘breaking’ a promise to defer his gold-plated Speaker’s pension until he is 65.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mr Bercow, 58, has gone back on a pledge to save the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds by not receiving the benefit until 2028.
In fact, Mr Bercow took the final salary pension – worth over £35,000 a year – after he retired as Speaker aged 56 in November 2019.
John Bercow, pictured right, decided to accept his pension after stepping down as speaker after discussing the matter with his wife, Sally, left
The revelation comes just weeks after this newspaper forced Mr Bercow – accused of pro-Remain bias as Speaker – to confirm that he had now joined the Labour Party.
Last night, Mr Bercow, who has denied any bias, admitted the pension U-turn, saying he had made the original ‘commitment off my own bat’.
But he made clear his wife Sally had persuaded him to change his mind – partly because of Boris Johnson’s Government.
Mr Bercow said: ‘Shortly before I left office, Sally and I discussed the matter.
‘She emphasised that the pension had always been part of my employment package and I should therefore take it, especially as, in her words, the Johnson Government was ‘‘breaking conventions and promises left, right and centre”. I agreed with that sentiment and have been taking my Speaker pension, in line with my predecessors’ practice, since I retired.’
But Tory MPs branded him a disgrace and said the pension revelation was another reason why he should be denied the peerage traditionally offered to former Speakers. They also said it was ‘nonsensical’ to blame Mr Johnson for the about-turn.
The row centres on a gold-plated pension originally available to three great offices of State – Commons Speaker, Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor. The office holders were entitled to claim half their final salary from the moment they stood down, regardless of their age and length of service.
But while David Cameron and Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke waived their rights to it after the financial crash, Mr Bercow in 2012 instead promised only to postpone taking it.
Tory colleague Andrew Bridgen said: ‘Surely this latest insight into his deeply flawed character rules him out of ever being offered a peerage by any Government’
A ‘Speaker’s Pension’ statement at the time acknowledged that as Mr Bercow was 46 when he became Speaker and had originally intended to serve no more than nine years, he would still be in his mid-50s when he stood down, be able to earn a new income and ‘also be in receipt of the Speaker pension at a relatively young age’.
It declared: ‘The Speaker does not believe that this is right.
‘Having taken appropriate advice, he has therefore proposed before he leaves office to waive his entitlement to the Speaker’s pension until he reaches the age of 65.
‘At current prices this will mean, along with the pay cut he took in 2010, a total minimum saving of approximately £430,000 to the Exchequer.’
The pension perk was abolished for all future post-holders in 2013 – meaning current Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle will not get the benefit.
Last night, former Cabinet Minister David Jones said: ‘The fact is Mr Bercow made a solemn pledge to save taxpayers money by deferring his plum pension. Given how publicly he made that original promise, the least he should have done when he stepped down as Speaker was announce that he was going back on his word.’
Tory colleague Andrew Bridgen said: ‘Surely this latest insight into his deeply flawed character rules him out of ever being offered a peerage by any Government.
‘John Bercow behaved disgracefully and sullied the reputation of Parliament as Speaker and now he’s behaving disgracefully as an ex-Speaker.
‘He has broken a clear promise not to take this gold-plated pension until he was 65.’