Speaker reported to standards watchdog over ‘stupid’ jibe at MP Andrea Leadsom
John Bercow on Monday admitted using the word ‘stupid’ but offered no apology.
Speaker John Bercow has been reported to the Commons’ standards watchdog over claims he branded Andrea Leadsom a “stupid woman” and “f****** useless”.
Tory MP James Duddridge said he had made a formal complaint to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone over the May 16 outburst in the chamber directed at the Commons Leader.
Mr Bercow on Monday admitted using the word “stupid” but offered no apology.
The perpetrator cannot be allowed to have so much power over the House, its members and staff who work in the Commons Tory MP James Duddridge
He said he would “continue to speak out firmly” for the interests of the Commons and publicly disagree with the Government’s management of business, which is led by Mrs Leadsom.
In his letter to the Commissioner, Mr Duddridge said he believed Mr Bercow’s actions breached the Commons’ 2009 code of conduct, which states: “Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute.”
The Rochford and Southend East MP wrote: “We cannot let the current situation of intimidation and bullying from such a senior figure whom we should look to set an example and act as arbitrator.
“The perpetrator cannot be allowed to have so much power over the House, its members and staff who work in the Commons. It is essential that the Speaker steps aside from chairing and participating on all matters related to bullying.”
He also asked for a call to evidence over “intimidating behaviour which I and other members have witnessed repeatedly over the years”.
The Commissioner’s office confirmed it had received a complaint and she would “consider whether the matter is within her remit and, if it is, whether there is sufficient evidence to justify beginning an inquiry”.
A spokeswoman for Mr Bercow declined to comment.
The incident came on the day an inquiry into allegations Mr Bercow bullied two former private secretaries, Angus Sinclair and Kate Emms, was blocked by MPs.
The Commons Standards Committee voted three-two against allowing Parliament’s watchdog to investigate the allegations, which he has consistently denied.
The Speaker told MPs on Monday that he had been unhappy about a “badly handled” transport statement that had reduced time for other business in the house, including a Grenfell Tower debate.
He said: “It was in that context and that context alone that having expressed my displeasure about the matter quite forcefully from the chair I used the word ‘stupid’ in a muttered aside.
“That adjective simply summed up how I felt about the way that day’s business had been conducted.
“Anyone who knows (Mrs Leadsom) at all well will have not the slightest doubt about her political ability and her personal character.”
Mrs Leadsom later spoke at the despatch box, saying: “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.
“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 honourable members to do likewise.”
Asked if the Prime Minister believed Mr Bercow’s Commons statement had drawn a line under the matter, Theresa May’s spokesman said: “I think the Speaker’s comments yesterday are obviously a matter for him.
“I think what the Prime Minister would say is that she is in complete agreement with the Leader of the Commons that at all times all members of Parliament should be treated with courtesy and respect.”