Great man was ‘warm and strikingly engaged’

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow meets President of the US Barack Obama 25.5.11
Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow meets President of the US Barack Obama 25.5.11
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THE warmth and respect on the face of MP for Buckingham John Bercow said it all, as he greeted President of the United States Barack Obama on Wednesday.

As Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr Bercow and his wife Sally had already met the president at a Buckingham Palace state dinner in honour of the Obamas on Tuesday night.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow meets President of the US Barack Obama 25.5.11

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow meets President of the US Barack Obama 25.5.11

And on Wednesday he was tasked with taking President Obama on a 20-minute tour of the House and giving the opening address before the president’s speech.

“We got on extremely well,” Mr Bercow told the Advertiser. “The fact he was warm and empathetic was obvious from when I first met him on Tuesday night. My wife was thrilled to bits to meet him.

“He was hugely self-deprecating and said he didn’t want to outstay his welcome by speaking too long.”

Of their second meeting on Wednesday, Mr Bercow said: “I thought he was extremely warm and strikingly engaged with everyone he met and everything he saw.

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow meets President of the US Barack Obama 25.5.11

Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow meets President of the US Barack Obama 25.5.11

“We were slightly late but he wasn’t at all hurried. I was struck by the fact he wanted to meet everybody, not just the great and the good.

“He went out of his way to shake hands with the doorkeepers.

“One clerk of the house I introduced him to was absolutely thrilled and I was very struck by how empathetic he was.

“When he came to speak, I was struck by his poise and self-confidence. He has an ease of expression most of us in politics would love to possess.

“He’s certainly the finest communicator I’ve heard.

“I feel very fortunate to shake hands with him and show him round.

“It’s my duty to be polite and welcoming but I do admire him very much.

“He is the very embodiment of the principle that merit should triumph.”