Spokesperson for The Speaker plays down quit claims

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A spokesperson for The Speaker has played down claims John Bercow is set to quit from his position next summer.

Reports circulated on Tuesday afternoon that Mr Bercow had told friends he intended to quit as Speaker next summer, however these claims have been rebuffed.

A spokesperson for The Speaker said: "The Speaker has made no announcement about his leaving date. He was elected by the House in 2017 for the course of the Parliament. In the event he has anything to say on his future plans, he will make an announcement to the House first.” 

It comes after Mr Bercow faced calls to quit to his face in the Commons on Tuesday afternoon amid bullying accusations – claims he strongly denies.

Mr Bercow announced that he wants complaints about bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct in the Commons to be investigated by an outside body.

High Court judge Dame Laura Cox lifted the lid on a toxic environment in Westminster, that included staff having their bottoms and breasts touched in an atmosphere fuelled by ready access to alcohol.

Her report found a culture of "deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence" had allowed the mistreatment of staff in the House of Commons to thrive.

In the report, Dame Laura said it was "difficult to envisage" how the reforms needed could be delivered under the current senior House administration.


Time to 'press the reset button'

During a Commons debate on the report, during which Mr Bercow remained in the chair, MPs said it was time for him to stand down.

Tory former minister Maria Miller, who chairs the women and equalities committee, said: "The report is clear that there needs to be a complete change in leadership at the most senior level, including you Mr Speaker, as chief officer, if we are, in Dame Laura's words, to press the reset button."

Anne Main, Tory MP for St Albans, said: "It's the old adage that the fish rots from the head, and the leadership failings that have been highlighted in this report are extremely worrying.

"The important thing is nobody need fear to be able to call into account those however senior they are if they have failings.

"If this report has identified senior leadership failings... no one should be involved in this process who has been potentially linked to being part of the problem in this process."

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said: "Given that the current senior management of the House of Commons is so criticised in Dame Laura's report, who can be trusted to take ownership of this important issue and how can those deemed to be the problem themselves ever possibly be part of the solution?"

Tory James Duddridge, a critic of Mr Bercow, mocked the Speaker, listing the "unacceptable behaviours" set out in the report before asking "how can we encourage Mr Speaker to stop this behaviour?".