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John Bercow is a 'playground bully' who made the UK 'un-governable' say MPs vying to be Speaker

4 min read

John Bercow is a “playground bully” who has made the country “un-governable” according to the MPs who want to replace him.

The House of Commons Speaker came under sustained attack by the candidates vying to take over when he stands down on October 31.

Tory backbencher Shailesh Vara said Mr Bercow has "tarnished the role of Speaker with his biasedness" and the rulebook needs to be re-written to curtail his powers.

At a hustings in Parliament for the nine MPs who want his job, Mr Vara added: “Recently we have had a lot of debate about the standards of MPs in the Commons, and given that the Speaker Bercow has at times behaved like verbal playground bully in the way that he treats his colleagues.

“He insults them, he demeans them, I think that he loses all authority to lecture MPs as to how they should behave when his own behaviour in this in question.”

He also criticised him for comments made about the controversial attempt by Boris Johnson to prorogue Parliament for five weeks, saying “the way he behaved was undignified”.

And fellow Conservative Sir Edward Leigh said the problem with Mr Bercow is that “he is perceived by large parts of the nation not to be impartial”.

Adding: “And I personally think it was a mistake to overturn precedent and Standing Order 24 and allow Parliament essentially to take over the Government.

“It’s upset the whole governance of the nation, it's basically made us un-governable.”

They were speaking at the event alongside the other candidates for the election of a new Speaker on November 4; Sir Henry Bellingham, Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman, Meg Hillier, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Dame Eleanor Laing and Rosie Winterton.

Sir Henry said: "The problem with John Bercow is that many of the excellent work he's done has been impaired by, A, having favourites, I think, in some ways.

"And, B, too often grandstanding remarks that frankly are a waste of space and time."

He too attacked him for how he reacted to prorogation, saying he shouldn’t have made a statement calling it a “breach of constitutional norm” or given a press conference on the matter.

And Mr Bryant, who wants to be "an umpire, not a player", said of the role: "I think having an impartial Speaker is absolutely essential to the good functioning of our democracy."

He also criticised Mr Bercow for dragging Prime Minister’s Questions out, saying it would help if the Speaker "spoke less”.


The frontrunner for the role, Mr Hoyle, who has been a deputy speaker for nine years, said he thought Parliament had a “drugs problem”.

In response to whether there was an issue with drinking he said: “I do think there’s a drink problem, I think it needs to be addressed and I think support need to be given.

“That’s why health and wellbeing has got to be extended. It’s not just drink, we can’t shy away there’s a drug problem, and I genuinely believe that counselling and real support should be put in there for all staff and members.”

Pressed on the issue of drugs, Mr Hoyle added: “I believe there will be a drug problem, there is a drug problem right across this country.

“I don’t believe that somebody that walks in here may not be tempted to drugs and what I think is we should have health and well-being in place for drink and drug counselling and real support for anybody who needs it.

“That’s where we need to be and let’s move on to a better sitting.”

Several of the other candidates agreed on the issue of alcohol, with Ms Harman saying “there is a drink problem” and called for action to help MPs and staff deal with out.

But she said she was not in favour of “making it a dry House”, which fellow Labour MP Ms Hillier agreed with, but said the amount of drinking “can lead to inappropriate behaviour."

Sir Edward also said there was a drink problem, but said it was “not as bad as it was in the past”, while Sir Henry and Dame Eleanor said they did not think there was.

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