Breaking point for Bercow: Leadsom called to give Commons statement as speaker under fire

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Posted on Oct 17 2018 - 8:33pm by admin

Chairwoman of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller, said Mr Bercow should “absolutely” step down after the investigation by High Court judge Dame Laura Cox QC, which found “predatory behaviour” and bullying on an “almost daily” basis in Westminster.

Mr Bercow has  granted an urgent question on bullying in the Commons as calls grow for him to quit in the wake of the damning probe.

He granted the request from Labour MP John Mann calling for the Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom to make a statement on the findings of the review by Dame Laura Cox QC.

The probe was announced by Mrs Leadsom, leader of the Commons, in March.

Mrs Miller believed it showed “bullying and harassment is coming right from the top” and “the legitimacy of the House of Commons is undermined by having this sort of behaviour and culture prevail”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today’s programme, she said: “The report is incredibly powerful and clear that what is the root problem here is that the bullying and harassment is coming right from the top.

“We have outstanding allegations directly against the Speaker, who will be one of the people who will be considering this report, and it cannot be right that the very people who are being criticised so heavily in an independent report are those who are going to be deciding how it is taken forward.”

Mr Bercow is now facing intense pressure to step down from his Commons role following the report’s publication.

The Speaker has faced claims that he bullied two former Commons officials.

Mr Bercow has denied the claims, but the report slams a culture of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” that has allowed bullying to fester in the Commons.

Dame Laura called for an “entirely independent process” to now handle staff complaints against MPs.

Sir Kevin Barron, outgoing chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, also demanded the Speaker’s resignation.

Writing in The Times, he said: “The change in culture has to come from the top, and unfortunately I no longer believe that the Speaker, John Bercow, is the correct person to provide that leadership, so he should step down.”

Staff reported being shouted and sworn at and belittled on an “almost daily” basis.

There was also “predatory” behaviour by some male MPs towards female staff.

“Inappropriate touching” included “trying to kiss them, grabbing their arms or bottoms or stroking their breasts or bottoms”.

Mrs Leadsom said she would consider the report’s findings.

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