John Bercow launched a furious rant against Andrea Leadsom for “playing” on her phone while another colleague was speaking in the House of Commons. Ms Leadsom then fired back at the Speaker, accusing him of failing to treat colleagues with “courtesy and respect”. During points of order, Mr Bercow raged: “I note that as the right honourable gentleman asks his question and I respond the Leader of the House is playing with her electronic device and so is the Deputy Chief Whip. I did not include him in the category of very senior people in the House but that is a debatable proposition I readily grant.
“But it would seem to be to be helpful if people showed respect for each other in these circumstances, and if they were in the Chamber listened to what others had to say.
“But if they choose not to do so well so be it. I try to show good manners and I hope others will try to do so as well.”
Commons Leader Ms Leadsom later hit back: “Mr Speaker I just want to be very clear I am indeed a reforming Leader of the House of Commons, and for me treating colleagues with courtesy and respect is at the forefront of that reform.
“Any Speaker’s Counsel would have to have that at its heart, and I simply would not be confident that that would be the case.”
Mr Bercow responded: “Well so be it. I treat the House with respect, I have treated its members with respect, I chaired a previous Speaker’s conference and there was no criticism of the way on which I did so.
“One reason why the Leader of the House might not be well versed in that particular Speaker’s conference, and in a position to make a judgement about my chairmanship of it, is very simply that it took place before the right honourable lady entered the House of Commons.”
The comments follow Mr Bercow threatening to block a third vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal unless she changes it.
The Speaker said MPs have expressed concerns about being asked to vote on Mrs May’s controversial deal more than once.
He said unless her Brexit deal is revised, he will prevent the third meaningful vote on it.
Mr Bercow said: “It has been strongly rumoured that third and even possibly fourth meaningful vote motions will be attempted. Hence this statement is designed to signal what would be orderly and what would not.
“If the Government wishes to bring forward a new proposition that is neither the same nor substantially the same as that disposed of by the House on March 12 this would be entirely in order.
“What the Government cannot do is resubmit the same proposition or substantially the same proposition of that of last week that was rejected by 149 votes.
“This should not be thought of as my last word on the matter. It is the test the Government must meet for a vote to be legitimately by held.”