John Bercow has broken his vow to defer taking his gold-plated pension until he has neared retirement age.
The former Commons Speaker, 58, was plunged into a fresh row on Sunday after it emerged that he had decided to take his final salary pension – reportedly worth more than £35,000 a year – after stepping down in 2019.
Until 2013, Prime Ministers, former Lord Chancellors and Speakers were entitled to claim half their final salary as a pension from the moment they stood down, regardless of their age and length of service.
While former Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke refused to take up the entitlement in the wake of the financial crisis, the Mail on Sunday revealed that Mr Bercow had now done so. It comes despite his promise in 2012 to postpone taking it until he reached 65.
Mr Bercow said at the time that the state of the economy and the fact he was likely to continue working after leaving the post were factors behind his decision. A statement issued by his office said that because he was elected to the role aged 46 it would mean him claiming the pension at a "relatively young age" which he did not believe "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," the statement continued.
However, when approached by the Mail on Sunday, Mr Bercow revealed that his wife, Sally, had persuaded him to change his stance.
"Shortly before I left office, Sally and I discussed the matter," he said. "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."
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."