The Speaker of the House of Commons and MP for Buckingham, John Bercow, has had a turbulent six weeks at Westminster having faced multiple criticisms of his conduct, including accusations of bullying and sexism.
The allegations have led to the prospect of a significant by-election in Buckingham amid demands for a “proper investigation” from the Prime Minister and calls for a debate on the Speaker’s role from some MPs.
However, a Standard’s Committee voted against an investigation.
It would have been the first time since 2005 that the seat of Buckingham was challenged, as a parliamentary tradition dictates that the major parties do not run against the Speaker for his constituency.
Mr Bercow had also previously suggested that he would step down from the House Speaker role in June 2018, but he has now indicated that he wishes to remain for another four years.
With rumours of a ‘no confidence’ vote circulating around Westminster, the Buckingham MP is far from out of the woods regarding his future in parliament.
A spokesperson for Mr Bercow told this paper: “Mr Bercow is as determined as ever to fulfil, to the best of his ability, his responsibilities in Buckingham - and in Westminster - following his re-election in June last year.”
TIMELINE OF EVENTS
1 May > BBC Newsnight broadcasts an interview with John Bercow’s former private secretary, Angus Sinclair, who accuses him of angry outbursts including mimicry and smashing a mobile phone between 2009 and 2010.
Mr Sinclair’s successor, Kate Emms, had previously made similar allegations against the Speaker dating back to 2011.
Ms Emms was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
3 May > Ex-Black Rod David Leakey says Mr Bercow could be “intimidating, unreasonable, and disproportionate” and said he did not think that the Speaker’s conduct met the required standard.
16 May > Mr Bercow is accused of calling the Aylesbury born Leader of The House, Andrea Leadsom, a “stupid woman” during an angry outburst at Westminster.
Mrs Leadsom, who coincidentally is working on the creation of a new complaints procedure, decided not to make a complaint about the Speaker’s behaviour, telling this paper: “I’m wanting to focus on the prize, which is changing the culture of Parliament, not focusing on any individual case.”
12 June > MP Claire Perry writes to Mr Bercow asking him to “consider his behaviour” after she accuses him of making sexist remarks to her during Parliament.
The Speaker demanded “no dilation” from Ms Perry when he felt she was taking too long to answer a question.
‘Dilation’ can refer to someone speaking at length but is also associated with childbirth.
Mr Bercow wrote back to the MP for Devizes suggesting a “clear the air cup of tea.”
13 June > SNP MPs storm out of Parliament after their leader Ian Blackford was suspended from the chamber by Mr Bercow for refusing to sit down as he demanded a vote on his assertion that the Commons should sit in private in response to what he sees as a Westminster “power grab” in the EU withdrawal bill.
The Speaker had initially granted a vote before backtracking, and appeared unsure of established procedures.