Now Ber­cow ‘calls Lead­som a use­less and stupid woman’

Daily Mail - - One Day To Go ... - By Claire El­li­cott and Jack Doyle

JOHN Ber­cow called a Cab­i­net min­is­ter a ‘use­less, stupid woman’, it was claimed last night.

The Speaker – who is al­ready fac­ing al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing – is said to have fired the jibe at Com­mons Leader An­drea Lead­som fol­low­ing an­gry ex­changes on Wed­nes­day.

A wit­ness claims he saw Mr Ber­cow de­scribe Mrs Lead­som as a ‘stupid woman’ un­der his breath, be­fore adding that she was ‘f***ing use­less.’

A source close to Mrs Lead­som, who was made aware of the al­leged re­marks by col­leagues, said she was ‘ stunned’ by the at­tack, but in­tended to ‘rise above it’.

A spokesman for the Speaker did not deny the al­le­ga­tion last night, but said it had been an ‘un­usual and con­tro­ver­sial’ day on which ‘some strong and dif­fer­ing views were ex­pressed on all sides’.

The spokesman in­sisted Mr Ber­cow ‘treats his col­leagues with re­spect’.

The con­tro­versy comes as the Speaker is bat­tling sep­a­rate al­le­ga­tions of bul­ly­ing, which he strongly de­nies.

It will put fur­ther pres­sure on him to keep to his pre­vi­ous prom­ise to stand down next month, which he is now re­sist­ing.

Tory MP Andrew Brid­gen last night called for him to quit over his lat­est al­leged out­burst.

Mr Brid­gen, who re­ported him to the par­lia­men­tary stan­dards watch­dog over bul­ly­ing al­le­ga­tions, said: ‘John Ber­cow claims to sup­port fem­i­nism and di­ver­sity, and virtue sig­nals at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, but ob­vi­ously it’s not the case when it comes to Tory MPs. I think it’s fair to say that his be­hav­iour is be­com­ing more strange by the day. John Ber­cow should go now be­fore he dam­ages our par­lia­men­tary democ­racy any fur­ther.’

Wed­nes­day’s row came af­ter Mr Ber­cow took Mrs Lead­som to task for timetabling a state­ment on the na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of the East Coast Main Line on a day al­lo­cated for Op­po­si­tion de­bates. Although the pro­ce­dure is not un­usual, Mr Ber­cow re­acted an­grily.

Star­ing at Miss Lead­som, and wav­ing his fin­ger, he de­liv­ered a two-minute lec­ture about par­lia­men­tary pro­ce­dure.

He said: ‘One looks to peo­ple tra­di­tion­ally with re­spon­si­bil­ity for safe­guard­ing the rights of the House, of whom the Chair is one, but not the only one, to take these mat­ters very se­ri­ously. This is an un­de­sir­able state of af­fairs, and if it were to hap­pen on fur­ther oc­ca­sions, a great many MPs, not to men­tion in­ter­ested par­ties in the Op­po­si­tion day de­bates out­side the Cham­ber, would view it, frankly, as an abuse.’

Mrs Lead­som, who has clashed pre­vi­ously with Mr Ber­cow, ap­peared to ig­nore him, star­ing straight ahead while he spoke. This ap­peared to ir­ri­tate him fur­ther, lead­ing him to add: ‘If I have to make the point again on fu­ture oc­ca­sions, and to use the pow­ers of the Chair to fa­cil­i­tate the rights of this House in other ways, no mat­ter what flak em­anates from the Ex­ec­u­tive, I will do so in the fu­ture.’

He was then seen to al­legedly swear un­der his breath.

Mr Ber­cow has faced a num­ber of bul­ly­ing claims. Kate Emms, his for­mer pri­vate sec­re­tary, left her role af­ter less than a year amid al­le­ga­tions she was bul­lied by him. An­gus Sin­clair, an­other for­mer pri­vate sec­re­tary, has ac­cused him of be­ing phys­i­cally in­tim­i­dat­ing and de­mean­ing and David Leakey, who re­tired last year as Black Rod, claimed peo­ple were ‘ter­ri­fied’ of Mr Ber­cow.

The Par­lia­men­tary Com­mis­sioner for Stan­dards, Kathryn Hudson, had asked for per­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the al­le­ga­tions against him, but the Com­mons com­mit­tee on stan­dards voted to re­ject her plea be­cause the claims against him are more than seven years old.

Stunned: Com­mons Leader An­drea Lead­som

‘Un­usual day’: John Ber­cow

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