John Bercow: Ex-Speaker ‘sorry’ not to receive peerage


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Media captionMr Bercow became famous for his cries of ‘Order! Order!’ during Prime Minister’s Questions

Former Commons Speaker John Bercow has told the BBC he is “sorry” that he has not been granted a peerage.

Previous outgoing Speakers have been given a seat in the House of Lords, but the government has not put forward Mr Bercow’s name for consideration.

The ex-Conservative MP has been accused of bullying by his former colleagues but denies the claims.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions he had “made a lot of enemies” during his 10-year stint in the Commons.

Mr Bercow accepted he was “periodically irascible” and “wouldn’t take no for an answer”, but insisted: “I don’t think I bullied anyone, anywhere, in any way, at any time.”

He stepped down as Speaker in October after a decade in the post, during which time he faced accusations of bias over Brexit, as well as questions over his own behaviour towards colleagues.

The Speaker is in charge of what goes on within the House of Commons.

By tradition, the Speaker is above politics and is supposed to represent only the rules and conventions of Parliament. Once elected to the post, the Speaker no longer represents any political party.

Mr Bercow told BBC political correspondent Chris Mason that serving as Speaker had been “my enormous privilege”.

“I did my best – I had some successes, I had some failures. I endured controversies. I made friends, I incurred enemies as well,” he added.

He said, despite “a long-standing convention” of giving peerages to former Speakers, the matter was “best decided by other people”.

“I am not going to sit awake at night worrying about it.

“There are people who have got grievances and agendas of their own who think I just don’t fit.”

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He would not comment on reports that he was under investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over allegations of bullying, saying only “in due course people will know what the truth is”.

Bercow’s run-ins with his party

  • 2014: Enrages David Cameron and his allies when he cuts him off during Prime Minister’s Questions and tells him to sit down
  • 2015: Survives an attempt by Conservative whips to oust him just before the election
  • 2017: Suggests Donald Trump is not welcome in Parliament during state visit
  • 2018: Accused of calling cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom a “stupid woman” in the Commons
  • 2019: Accused of “unilaterally changing” parliamentary rules after a row over a government Brexit defeat

Mr Bercow has been proposed for a peerage by the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, amid suggestions by the opposition that the ex-Speaker is being denied a seat for his hostility to the UK leaving the EU.

During his time in the role, Mr Bercow gave unprecedented powers to backbenchers to hold ministers to account and made controversial and far-reaching procedural decisions at key stages of the Brexit process.

In February, he told the BBC there was a “conspiracy” to keep him out of the House of Lords.

He named no names, but said it was “blindingly obvious” that there was a “concerted campaign” to prevent him from being given a peerage.

Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said there was “no obligation” on the prime minister to give Mr Bercow a peerage and the allegations against him need to be investigated.

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Media captionJohn Bercow is asked in the Commons about bullying allegations against him

Mr Bercow is facing at least one formal complaint regarding his behaviour in the Speaker’s chair.

He has dismissed claims there was a pattern of bullying towards his subordinates, and maintains that the “vast majority” of his relationships with colleagues both inside and outside Parliament were constructive.

He told BBC Radio 4 he was upset not to have been given the opportunity to take a seat in the House of Lords.

“I am not going to pretend it doesn’t matter,” he said, adding that he would like “to make a contribution”.

Mr Bercow added: “I am just going to go on doing what I think is right, standing up for good causes [and] celebrating important principles.”



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