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Sat, 4 April 2020

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Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing suggests John Bercow has 'loaded the dice' over Brexit

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing suggests John Bercow has 'loaded the dice' over Brexit
2 min read

Dame Eleanor Laing has taken a swipe at John Bercow's record as Speaker after she accused him of "loading the dice" over Brexit.

Dame Eleanor, who is one of nine MPs vying to replace Mr Bercow when he steps down from the role at the end of this month, said his successor must be an "independent anchor... unaffected by an allegiance to any political objective".

It comes after senior Conservative MPs repeatedly raised concerns that the Speaker had failed to carry out his duties impartially following a series of controversial rulings made during the Brexit process, including his decision to allow pro-Remain backbenchers to repeatedly seize control of the Commons agenda.

Dame Eleanor, who is also a Conservative MP, said there was a perception that Mr Bercow had "loaded the dice" in Parliament.

Writing for the Sunday Telegraph, she said: "Parliament and the country are at breaking point over Brexit, in large part due to the perception that our tried and tested constitutional traditions are being manipulated in order to load the dice in one particular direction.

"The election of a new Speaker is an opportunity for MPs to work together to restore that broken trust and to plan a future where we do things rather differently.

"The Speaker needs to be an independent anchor of our proceedings, unaffected by an allegiance to any political objective or to any party or group within Parliament, upholding our rules and conventions and applying them consistently."

Dame Eleanor also hit out at the "aggression and arrogance" shown during Prime Minister's Questions, saying it should be the Speaker's responsibility to set an "example of dignified, respectful behaviour in the Chamber".

She added: "MPs have a responsibility to their constituents to behave in the decent and courteous way that they expect of us. Robust, witty argument is good. Aggression and arrogance is deplorable. 

"Sadly, the overbearing macho behaviour we see at Prime Minister's Questions is sometimes reflected elsewhere.

"The occupant of the Chair can only earn respect by showing respect."

The remarks come after Dame Eleanor told PoliticsHome that, if elected as Speaker, she would work to "restore the reputation" of Parliament.

"We all agree that the culture of Parliament has to change," she wrote.

"There is an element of bullying and bad behaviour. It must stop. 

"Not only do we need to be ‘family friendly’, we also have to make it easier for people from all parts of the country, all ages, all backgrounds and all walks of life to serve their communities by representing them in the Commons.

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