Saturday News Review

Tory plot to oust speaker

The government is privately backing a plan to oust the Commons Speaker John Bercow after the next election. Senior ministers are supporting a proposal which could force the Speaker to face a secret ballot of all MPs to retain his post. If he fails to be re-elected it would be the first time a sitting Speaker has been removed from office against their will. Ministers believe there is a majority in the House of Commons in favour of removing Bercow – but MPs are worried about voting in public to remove him in case he survives in the job. They are giving their tacit support to a plan that would change Commons rules to ensure that the Speaker has to be approved for re-election by secret ballot at the start of the Parliamentary term. As Select Committee chairs are already elected by secret ballot at the start of every Parliament, they believe they can sell it as part of the wider reforms programme which it will be difficult for the Speaker to object to. – the Independent

Ministers have given the green light to a new attempt by MPs to oust Commons Speaker John Bercow. Members of the Cabinet have revealed they will cooperate with a plan to change Parliamentary rules so the Speaker can be kicked out by secret ballot. It would allow MPs to remove the unpopular Speaker without them having to put their heads above the parapet. Despite the discontent towards  Mr Bercow – who is accused of bias against the Tories – many of his critics have been reluctant to push for him to quit for fear of suffering reprisals. But Conservative Party managers have decided to give MPs a free vote on plans to change the rules and bring in a secret ballot, Cabinet sources have revealed. – Daily Mail

Government to scrap flagship Osborne policy

The government is expected to scrap a green policy that would have allowed individuals to take a stake in the low-carbon economy, in a move that could starve environmental projects of billions in potential investment, the Guardian has learned. Green ISAs were a key Tory policy, to be introduced within two years as a way to help savers benefit from the growth of the green economy, as the billions raised from their sale would fund the state-backed green investment bank. But objections from Treasury mandarins mean the savings accounts are to be dropped, choking off a funding stream that would have channelled an estimated £2bn a year into windfarms, electric vehicles and other low-carbon technologies. The demise of green ISAs – widely regarded as the most potentially effective instruments the bank could use – is an embarrassment to George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, who came up with the idea three years ago and repeatedly championed the accounts. – the Guardian

Fine Gael poised for victory

Fine Gael is poised for victory in the Irish general election, but without an overall majority, according to a poll released by state broadcaster RTE. The exit poll shows the opposition party leading with 36 per cent of the vote, while the governing Fianna Fail party have dropped to third place with just 15 per cent of the vote. The poll shows Labour on 20 per cent, which would be the best ever result. The first results are due this afternoon in the Republic of Ireland’s general election, which is believed to have attracted a turnout close to 70%. – PoliticsHome

Fianna Fail best the British Tories as the most electorally successful western democratic party of the last century. Only in the 1990s did they briefly dip just a smidge below 40% of the vote – to 39% in 1992 and 1997. You have to go back to the party’s first Dail elections in 1927 to find them at 35% or below. Behold now the mighty Fianna Fail on 15% of the vote in the RTE exit poll. That’s less than half of the share of the vote achieved by John Major’s devastated Tories in the British election of 1997. The Irish electorate have wreaked vengeance on the party of government. Whether they have noted for change is less clear. Irish politics being what it is, the pendulum swings from one side of the centre-right to another, with Fine Gael topping the poll. But the new governing party’s emphasis on austerity too may well have cost it hopes of a majority in the final fortnight. – Next Left

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