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Sun, 5 April 2020

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John Bercow admits he called Andrea Leadsom 'stupid' - but refuses to apologise

John Bercow admits he called Andrea Leadsom 'stupid' - but refuses to apologise

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Commons Speaker John Bercow has admitted calling Tory minister Andrea Leadsom "stupid" - but refused to apologise for the outburst.

Mr Bercow - who has faced allegations of bullying - said the jibe "simply summed up how I felt" following a bust-up about parliamentary procedure.

Last week the Speaker refused to deny he used the slur after a tirade about the Government tabling statements on an Opposition Day, thereby reducing the amount of time available for debate.

Eyewitnesses said they they heard Mr Bercow call Ms Leadsom, the Commons Leader, a "stupid woman", while he is also alleged to have described her as "f****** useless".

Addressing MPs today, Mr Bercow said that in the context of the row he had "used the word 'stupid' in a muttered aside".

He added: "That adjective simply summed up how I felt about the way that that day’s business had been conducted.

"Anyone who knows the leader of the House at all well will have not the slightest doubt about her political ability and her personal character."

And he went on: “I love this House. I respect all of my colleagues. I hold you all in the highest esteem.

"It is our duty to get on with the business of parliament, scrutinising legislation, debating issues and standing up for the people we are here to represent.

"For my part, I shall continue to speak out openly for the interests of the whole House. And if from time to time it means disagreeing with the Government's management of business, then so be it."

In response, Ms Leadsom said: “I take my responsibilities to this House very seriously.

“As you said last week Mr Speaker we have a responsibility to safeguard the rights of this House. And as leader of the House I seek to do exactly that, treating all members of parliament with courtesy and respect.

“I hope and expect all honourable and right honorable members to do likewise.”

Two of Mr Bercow's former parliamentary secretaries accused him of bullying them.

Angus Sinclair claimed he was subjected to a string of angry outbursts, swearing and mimicry while working for the Speaker, and was paid £86,250 when he quit in 2010 in a deal that required him to promise not to speak about his experiences.

Mr Bercow was previously alleged to have shouted at and undermined Mr Sinclair's successor, Kate Emms, eventually leading to her being signed off sick.

The Speaker has strenuously denied all the allegations against him.

A new complaints procedure is being set up in Parliament for members of staff facing bullying or harassment, but will not examine historical allegations.

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