Speaker candidate dubs John Bercow ‘playground bully’

Shailesh Vara hopes to replace John Bercow

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A Conservative MP, who is one of nine people vying to be Commons Speaker, has called John Bercow a “playground bully” who “tarnished the role of Speaker with his biasness”.

Shailesh Vara said Mr Bercow insulted and demeaned his colleagues and he has called for his replacement to remain “courteous and polite”.

“Speaker Bercow has at times behaved like a verbal playground bully in the way that he treats his colleagues, he insults them, demeans them,” he said.

“I hope that he loses all authority to lecture to MPs as to how they should behave when his own behaviour is in question.”

Mr Vara made the comments at a Westminster campaign event, attended by fellow Speaker candidates Sir Henry Bellingham, Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman, Meg Hillier, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Dame Eleanor Laing, Sir Edward Leigh and Rosie Winterton.

He said Parliament must “rewrite the rule book” to clarify what the Speaker can and cannot do in certain circumstances.

“No matter how well intentioned the speaker may be, she or he may take a particular decision and those who are aggrieved by that decision, are going to feel that it is not fair,” he continued.

Conservative MP Sir Henry said Mr Bercow had been a “fantastic” speaker, but that much of his good work was negated by his “grandstanding remarks”.

And Labour MP Ms Harman told the assembly she believed the Speaker’s role was to be the “champion of Parliament” and that they must fight to ensure MPs could have their say.

The MPs also debated whether there was a drug and alcohol problem in Parliament after comments from Labour’s Sir Lindsey.

The Deputy Speaker said: “I do think there is a drink problem and I think it needs to be addressed and the support needs to be given, that's why health and wellbeing has got to be extended.”

“It's not just drink we've got to catch out, there is a drug problem, and I genuinely believe that counselling and real support should be available for all staff and members.”

Conservative MP Sir Edward agreed there was a drink issue, although he said the situation had improved in recent years.

However Sir Henry said there was no such problem, and some MPs “just need to grow up”.

The vote for Speaker will be held on November 4, after Mr Bercow takes the chair for the final time on October 31.

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