John Simon Bercow (born January 19, 1963) is a British politician who served as the Speaker of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom from June 2009 to November 2019. He was also a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Buckingham constituency from May 1997 to November 2019. He was the first Jewish person to hold the position of Speaker of the House of Commons.
Bercow was born in Edgware, North London, into a Jewish family of modest means. His father worked as a taxi driver.
During his youth, Bercow was a talented tennis player and even held the top ranking in youth tennis. However, his tennis career was cut short due to a kissing disease, which ultimately ended his prospects in the sport.
While studying at the University of Essex, he was elected as the leader of the British Conservative Party's student union, despite the party's more conservative leanings.
After completing his studies, Bercow worked in banking and as a lobbyist.
In 1986, he was elected to the Lambeth Borough Council.
In 1995, he was appointed as an adviser to a government minister and served under both the Treasury and the Department of Culture.
Bercow attempted to run for the British House of Commons in 1987 and 1992 but was unsuccessful in securing the party nomination in his chosen constituency. In the lead-up to the 1997 elections, Bercow strategically secured a nomination in two constituencies, both of which held elections on the same day and were considered safe seats.
He won the party's nomination in one of these constituencies and was elected to Parliament as the representative for the Buckingham constituency in Buckinghamshire. He held this seat in all subsequent elections until his resignation from the House of Commons in November 2019.
Bercow quickly climbed the ranks in parliamentary roles. Initially, he was responsible for handling educational and home affairs issues and later joined the Shadow Cabinet as a Shadow Cabinet Minister for Treasury, Work, and International Development.
In 2005, Bercow was elected by Channel 4 as an Outstanding Parliamentarian from the opposition benches.
Following the resignation of Michael Martin, Bercow was elected as the Speaker of the House of Commons on June 22, 2009, during the third round of voting. His appointment was approved by Queen Elizabeth II.
Bercow was the first Jewish Speaker of the House and notably did not wear the traditional ceremonial wig while presiding over the House of Commons. He also dispensed with the traditional tight-fitting knee-breeches but continued to wear the black gown symbolizing his commitment to parliamentary rules.
In the summer of 2019, Bercow gained attention for his vocal opposition to the then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, for attempting to prorogue (suspend) Parliament, a move deemed unlawful by the courts.
Bercow has been married to Sally Illman since 2002. His wife, who was a member of the Conservative Party, switched her allegiance to the Labour Party, leading to rumors of her husband's political withdrawal, rumors that were later denied.
The couple has three children, with their eldest son, Oliver, being on the autism spectrum.
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