A campaign to unseat John Bercow as Commons Speaker is “undignified and unattractive”, a senior Tory has said.
Sir Nicholas Soames said he would not sign a motion of no confidence in Mr Bercow, following his opposition to President Trump speaking in Parliament during a future state visit.
The MP said Mr Bercow was too outspoken but had been “very good” in many ways.
Mr Bercow has face criticism from other Conservatives, although only one MP has signed the motion so far.
Former Foreign Office minister James Duddridge tabled the early day motion ten days ago, arguing that Mr Bercow had overstepped the mark in voicing his opposition to the US President speaking in Parliament.
He said the Speaker’s intervention had compromised his neutrality and independence.
Although Mr Duddridge is the only signatory so far, focus on the issue is expected to increase when MPs return from their week-long recess on Monday.
MPs will debate the merits of President Trump’s proposed state visit on Monday when they consider rival public petitions opposing and supporting the event – which is likely to take place later this year.
Mr Bercow, who was a Conservative MP before being elected in 2009, will not chair the proceedings as they will be taking place in Westminster Hall, the Commons secondary debating chamber.
‘No to both’
Sir Nicholas, one of the longest-serving Tories in the Commons, told ITV’s Peston on Sunday he was not sure about the strength of feeling on the Tory benches against Mr Bercow, but he would not take part in any no confidence vote, should there be one.
“I have had an e-mail from both sides of the argument and I replied no to both of them,” he said.
“John Bercow has in many ways been a very good Speaker. He does tend to shout off on occasions when it would be better if he didn’t.”
He added: “I will not be taking part in any campaign, one way or another.
“I think it is a really undignified and unattractive. The Speaker’s office is one of the most important in the country.”
Several Tories have voiced concerns about Mr Bercow’s stance on Mr Trump’s visit – which he announced without consulting his counterpart in the House of Lords Lord Fowler. Lord Fowler has said Parliament should keep an “open mind” on the issue.
There has also been unease over Mr Bercow’s recent public declaration that he voted for Remain in last year’s EU referendum.
When Mr Bercow was first elected, he said he would serve nine years and some Tory MPs have urged him now to clarify his intentions over his future.
Downing Street has said the issue of Mr Bercow’s future is one for Parliament to decide – a position some observers have interpreted as giving ministers the green light to vote against the Speaker should the matter ever come before MPs.
Mr Duddridge’s early day motion has no parliamentary force and does not mean the issue of the Speaker’s future will be debated in the Commons.
Opposition parties remain supportive of Mr Bercow, with Labour MP Liz Kendall telling ITV’s Peston on Sunday that there was a “vendetta” against Mr Bercow from Conservative MPs who “just don’t like him”.
“By having this motion of no confidence, I think they may have made a mistake and people may rally round the Speaker. I certainly will be.”