I can exclusively reveal that former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell is urging MPs to oust John Bercow as Speaker of the House of Commons and elect him in his place. Tomorrow afternoon MPs meet to either confirm Bercow in his place or oust him. The Speaker has launched a PR campaign tonight to rally support but it appears to be hitting the buffers with Ming's astonishing intervention.
Ming has let it be known that he is willing to be included as a possible alternative to Bercow in an email due to be sent out to all MPs tomorrow morning by Labour MP Kate Hoey and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries. They will tell MPs that Sir Alan Haselhurst, Margaret Beckett and Edward Leigh are ready to stand for the office of Speaker and they will urge their colleagues across the House to oust Speaker Bercow. But the addition of Ming's name on the email will send shockwaves through the House of Commons tonight.
The key to the vote will be the 232 newbie MPs. How will they vote? Conservative whips are unlikely to rally to Speaker Bercow's defence. After all, at their final dinner of the last parliament they voted Bercow 'C*** of the Year'. David Cameron is thought to have lost faith in him too, despite endorsing his reelection campaign in Buckingham. What is less certain is the stance of Labour MPs. The bulk of them may well support the man they elected only a few months ago, but Ming Campbell's intervention may give them pause for thought.
My own view is that despite this shock news tonight, Bercow will squeak home, but with his authority tarnished.
If he does indeed win, then the whole House should unite behind him and the office of Speaker and put the difficulties of the last few months behind it. And Mr Speaker Bercow should try to understand the reasons why so many Conservative MPs have turned against him. Whatever the result tomorrow, he needs to extend the hand of conciliation.
Tomorrow looks as if it might be more interesting than we all first thought.
UPDATE: Readers should be aware that the vote on whether the Speaker should remain in office is not a secret ballot and MPs will proceed through the voting lobbies as in normal votes. For this reason I expect John Bercow still to be Speaker by the end of tomorrow. New MPs will not be keen to make enemies.
UPDATE 9.15am: Kate Hoey has decided against sending a letter to Labour MPs in favour of addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party at 1pm.