Tories say they are ready to take action to oust John Bercow

Commons Speaker could face no confidence motion over bullying allegations, which may win support of some Labour MPs

The Speaker, John Bercow, is expected to face a motion of no confidence in the Commons on Monday in the wake of allegations that he bullied a member of parliamentary staff.

The Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, a longtime critic of Bercow, said that either he or another MP would put down an early day motion (EDM) expressing no confidence in the speaker. While an EDM is a formal motion for debate, very few are actually discussed. However, MPs can put their names to them as a way of expressing support for a particular cause.

Bercow has vehemently denied claims made by BBC Two’s Newsnight that he bulled Kate Emms, his private secretary, for a period in 2010 and 2011, and that she developed post-traumatic stress disorder after working for him.

Bridgen said that whatever the specific claims connected to Emms, Bercow’s more general tendency towards bullying “is obvious to anyone who watches his performances in the chair”. Rather than act impartially, Bercow has a habit of “lashing out at elected MPs as if they were schoolchildren in need of the benefit of his chastisement”, Bridgen said.

Another Conservative MP, James Duddridge, has talked separately about whether Bercow should be referred to parliament’s standards committee for bringing the house into disrepute. However, he was also a strong critic of Bercow long before the bullying allegations. It remains to be seen if moves to challenge the Speaker will gain any traction beyond the group of predominantly Conservative MPs who dislike him anyway.

While some Labour MPs are reported to be seeking an urgent question in the Commons on the wider bullying allegations reported by Newsnight, it is understood there is no consensus in the party over whether any action is needed against Bercow.

Bercow is supported by many Labour MPs for his often interventionist role in helping MPs hold the government to account, regularly allowing urgent questions – part of the reason why a number of Tories object to him.

While the bullying allegations could change opinions, they only emerged on Thursday evening when most MPs were at their constituencies, meaning no opinion has formed over what should happen next.

A series of Labour MPs, including deputy speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Harriet Harman and Chris Bryant are known to be hoping to replace Bercow, who pledged to serve as speaker for 10 years and has completed almost nine. However, none is yet campaigning for Bercow to go immediately.

The Sunday Times cited unnamed “friends” of Harman as saying she was preparing to launch an immediate bid to oust Bercow, but it is understood she has no plans.


Peter Walker Political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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