Emily Thornberry doubles down on backing for Speaker John Bercow despite Jeremy Corbyn slapdown

Posted On: 
18th October 2018

Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry has doubled down on her backing for under-fire Commons speaker John Bercow - despite Jeremy Corbyn distancing himself from her comments.

Asked if she regretted backing the Speaker, Ms Thornberry said: "Of course not."

Mr Bercow has faced a string of calls to quit following the publication of a damning report by Dame Laura Cox into bullying in Parliament.

The report accused parliamentary bosses of allowing a "disturbing" culture of abuse to develop in Westminster, and said the entire Commons management team should be replaced. Mr Bercow has also faced claims, which he strongly denies, that he bullied two of his former parliamentary private secretaries.

Jeremy Corbyn slaps down Emily Thornberry over John Bercow bully row defence

Trade union condemns Labour's Emily Thornberry as she defends John Bercow in bullying row

But, speaking after the report was published, Ms Thornberry said it was "absolutely not the time to be changing Speaker" given the uncertainty around Brexit legislation.

The Shadow Foreign Secretary added: "We do need to have all hands to the deck at the moment".

On Wednesday, Jeremy Corbyn's spokesperson said that Ms Thornberry had been “giving a personal view", saying: "It’s not Jeremy’s view and it is not the view of the Labour leadership."

But the Shadow Foreign Secretary heaped fresh praise on Mr Bercow just hours after the slapdown from her leader.

Asked by Sky News if she regretted the comments, Ms Thornberry said: "Of course not, of course not. I think about 12 years ago I was looking for a Conservative MP to help me with a campaign I was doing to change the law with regards to lesbian mothers and the only Tory I could find was John Bercow."



The frontbencher was speaking at the Pink News awards in London, which were also attended by Mr Bercow.

Ms Thornberry's latest comments have already been branded "astounding" by a top trade union official.

Amy Leversidge of the FDA, whose members include clerks working in the House of Commons, told the PoliticsHome Podcast: "It is astounding that you can say, well someone helped me out twelve years ago, and therefore that means that they must be a good person."

The union's assistant general secretary added: "What really irritates me about that comment is that one of the recommendations is about this past case issue.

"The MPs blocked any cases from before June 2017 being... investigated under the new policy. So - they’ve almost said we’ll wipe the slate clean for bad behaviour but yet her justification for why she’ll stand by her man is that twelve years ago he helped her out a little bit."

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