John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons, has spoken of his “respect” for the SNP group at Westminster.

In a talk, promoting his new book, Mr Bercow was scathing of some of his former Conservative parliamentarians, including Boris Johnson and David Cameron.

Speaking candidly to a sold-out audience at an Aye Write book festival event at the Mitchell Theatre he recalled the period following the 2015 election when 56 SNP MPs were elected to Westminster.

Mr Bercow praised the group’s unity and singled out a Glasgow MP for praise.

He spoke of the current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, of David Cameron caving in to the “nutters and fuitcakes” of Ukip, and the government minister he wouldn’t trust as far as he could throw.

Glasgow Times:

On the SNP Mr Bercow said: “I had an early minor spat over clapping. The most striking thing about them was the solidaristic ethos of the SNP, properly representing constituents on the turf of Westminster.

“The SNP turned up in large numbers, tabled for questions heavily. They made their presence felt. They were a very effective respected force. I did respect them and I didn’t like it when government backbenchers were braying at the them.

“The SNP issued a wake-up call to us all and punched their weight. People of the calibre of Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South SNP MP) are not going to be rubbished or intimidated. They will have their say.”

Glasgow Times:

He said that the stalemate over a second independence referendum will not be resolved quickly.

Mr Bercow said the UK government was entitled to say: “We had an independence referendum in 2014 we won be quiet”  However, he added: “But it was said, yes they accepted once in a generation, unless there was a material change in circumstances.

“David Cameron said stay in the UK within the single market and the EU and Scotland is now being led out of the EU, so it is a material change.”

He said the continued refusal would lead, he thinks, to an “exponential increase in support for a referendum and in time for independence”.

He said the risk of the UK “splitting asunder was greater than at any other time” and that it required a leader to display “diplomacy, skill, subtlety and statecraft” to keep it together.

But questioned whether Boris Johnson possessed those qualities.

On David Cameron he said he was wrong to have called the EU referendum “when there was no public clamour” for one at the time.

He criticised Boris Johnson and accused him of mimicking Donald Trump.

Mr Bercow said on recent tension between the government and the judiciary it was wrong to attempt to “reduce the power of the court” and he added that it was also wrong to try and “dictate who should and should not attend press conferences.

He said it was a “Reprise of the Trump playbook”.

When asked who was the most likely successor To Boris Johnson he said with a large majority that would likely be far off.

However, he said: “The most capable member of the government by a country mile is Michael Gove.

Glasgow Times:

“We are not big chums but he is extraordinarily capable.”

He added: “Whether I would want to walk in front of him the answer is no, in apprehension of the dagger in my back. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.”