Belfast Telegraph

One law for Speaker John Bercow and another for the rest of us stinks to high heaven

 

By Chris Moncrieff

How much longer can MPs tolerate John Bercow as Speaker? The criticism about his conduct, both at Westminster and beyond, has been relentless and extremely damaging to him. Yet, MPs seem too timid even to allow an investigation to take place into allegations of bullying on his part - accusations he fiercely denies.

Now, on top of that, there are allegations that he uttered foul-mouthed remarks against a member of the Cabinet, Andrea Leadsom. The fact these remarks were made under his breath is no excuse. They were uttered and were audible - a total disgrace on his part.

All this from a man who regularly and annoyingly chides MPs about their so-called raucous behaviour. It takes your breath away. The bullying allegations were made separately by two senior ex-aides of the Speaker. They were serious and detailed.

Yet, shamefully, the House of Commons standards committee blocked the investigation from ever taking place.

How can it be right that an MP's alleged wrong-doings are tried (or not tried, as in this case) by fellow MPs acting as judge and jury in their own court?

No ordinary punter enjoys the luxury of his own family deciding whether he should face justice or not when an offence is committed.

This is seriously a case of one law for MPs and another for the rest of us - it is a mockery of justice and a scandal that must be abandoned. Some independent body must be created to deal with these cases.

Ironically, Bercow himself should be angry at the decision to block the investigation. Since he denies the bullying, he would otherwise have had the chance to clear his name.

This is not a witch-hunt against Bercow. All his troubles he has brought on himself. The trouble is that, pathetically, MPs do not seem to have the bottle to dump him.

But now Downing Street has entered the fray and said that Bercow's grossly insulting behaviour towards Ms Leadsom was unacceptable.

That could mean that belated action might now be forthcoming.

The Prime Minister needs to start thumping the Cabinet table with some vigour to bring those of her recalcitrant senior ministers back into line. A good Thatcher-style "handbagging" would do wonders for them and, more importantly, for the nation.

Cabinet ministers who do not like a particular policy should, nevertheless, go along with it, or get out. It's called collective responsibility.

They certainly should not go to war with their fellow ministers.

These people - and other Remainers - are scandalously defying the majority will of the British electorate to quit the EU. It's as simple as that.

The reason the Brexit negotiations are so acrimonious and moving at such a snail's pace is that these ministers and other Westminster grandees think they know better than 17 million-plus of their fellow citizens.

No wonder Brussels negotiators are so gleeful about the disloyal antics of parts of the British Establishment. Theresa May must get a grip of her ministers, who are threatening her own political future.

After all, as the late Dr Ian Paisley said in the Commons shortly before his death: "Majorities have rights, too, you know."

Words that the would-be Brexit-wreckers should read, mark and learn.

Does Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suffer recurring nightmares about water cannons? Because, if he does not, he certainly deserves to.

When he was Mayor of London, some four years ago, he purchased water cannons at a cost of many thousands of pounds. But the then-Home Secretary, Theresa May, told him bluntly they could not be used on the streets of London and were thus not licensed.

You might have thought Johnson would have taken the elementary precaution of asking the Home Secretary whether they could be used, before wasting so much public money on them.

It is difficult to understand why he did not.

So, now, they sit idle in the custody of Scotland Yard, while the Metropolitan Police chief, Cressida Dick, tries in vain to sell them - and are costing taxpayers regular large sums of money to keep them in trim in the unlikely event of a would-be purchaser emerging. Otherwise, they will have to be sold for scrap.

Boris's conscience should be constantly pricking him. But in his present grand office, I suspect he has forgotten all about this scandal.

Belfast Telegraph

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