How a Q&A with John Bercow MP at the University of Reading became national news
Release Date 13 February 2017
The Politics lecturer who arranged for House of Commons Speaker the Rt Hon John Bercow MP to visit the University of Reading earlier this month has expressed his surprise over the media “furore” that has followed comments he made there.
In a post on the university's Politics and International Relations blog, Dr Mark Shanahan addressed some of the questions asked by reporters and political figures in recent days, such as whether Mr Bercow knew he was being filmed and how footage of the talk to students "emerged".
During the visit, on 3 February, Conservative MP Mr Bercow told students he had voted for the UK to remain a member of the European Union in the June 2016 referendum. He also admitted to having concerns about some views expressed by US President Donald Trump.
Three days after the Reading visit, the Speaker commented on the proposed state visit to the UK by President Trump in the House of Commons, saying he believed MPs should stand against sexism and racism by not allowing him to address Parliament.
This led to Mr Bercow coming under fire from political opponents who feel he should be seen to be impartial as Speaker. Reports on his Brexit revelation to students have led to further criticism.
In this blog, Dr Shanahan praises Mr Bercow for his honesty while answering the questions, and says the students may have been given an unexpected lesson in how MPs can go from welcome guests to political targets in a matter of days.