Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has nominated former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, who was previously a Conservative, to the House of Lords for the dissolution honours list.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson mentioned that it’s a “break in convention” for a party to nominate a member of the opposing party to the House of Lords.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said it would be a break in convention if reports are true that Labour is preparing to put Bercow’s name forward for the dissolution honours list.

I understand that Bercow could sit as a Crossbencher even if he is nominated by Labour.

However, is it unprecedented for a party to nominate someone from an opposing party to the House of Lords and the peer subsequently sat as a member of that party (i.e. former Conservative MP nominated by Labour and sat as a Labour peer)?

  • Is Bercow still technically a Conservative? Is his membership subscription up-to-date?
    – WS2
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 9:23
  • 4
    It's a break in convention not to nominate the Speaker on retirement, so I'm not sure what Johnson's problem is.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 10:53

1 Answer 1


I wasn’t able to find any modern examples of opposition party members “switching sides” after being nominated for a peerage, but I am aware of one relevant example;

In Theresa May’s resignation honours in September 2019, the Labour MP for Bassetlaw John Mann was nominated for a peerage. This was seen by many as a bribe or reward for Mann having supported her Brexit deal in votes in the House of Commons in defiance of the Labour whip.

Mann quit the Commons in order to assume his place in the Lords in October 2019, and currently sits as a crossbencher, despite maintaining his membership of the Labour Party. He is, however, also a member of HM Government, as he is the inaugural holder of the post of Antisemitism Tsar.

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