Friday Caption Contest (Down But Not Out Edition)

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Bercow’s Last Day

In June 2009 when he became Speaker, John Bercow promised MPs he would serve “for no more than nine years in total”. That deadline expires today, but he’s still in office…

While we all wait for Bercow’s last day, this is the line from the Speaker’s office:

“He was elected by the House in 2017 for the course of the Parliament. In the event he has anything to say on his future plans, he will make an announcement to the House first.”

Still waiting…

Sally Bercow: We’re Not Packing Our Bags Yet

Welcome back to Twitter to Sally Bercow, whose return has been verified by her lawyer David Allen Green. Sally is picking up where she left off, starting with a vocal defence of Brexit-hating rebels Dominic Grieve and Lord Moat:

Plenty of tweets and retweets accusing Number 10 of lying about Brexit and Theresa May of “dangerous, anti-democratic nonsense”:

She is also clearly enjoying trolling Bercow critic James Duddridge and insists the Speaker isn’t going anywhere:

Good to have you back, Sally…

SNP Leader Kicked Out of Commons

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford deliberately gets himself suspended from the Commons with a naff stunt at PMQs. The rest of the Nats then walked out in protest as Bercow floundered and completely lost control. Oh well. Bye!

Claire Perry Accuses Bercow of “Sexist and Demeaning” Behaviour

John Bercow is facing yet more allegations this afternoon, with Tory minister Claire Perry accusing him of “sexist and demeaning” behaviour and having a “women problem”. Perry says a dozen colleagues from all sides of the House are backing her after the incident yesterday. How long will the Speaker keep getting away with it?

UPDATE: Perry’s letter via The Sun.

UPDATE: Bercow has replied, dismissing Perry’s claims and instead inviting her for a “clear the air cup of tea”. Extraordinary…

Serjeant-at-Arms: Bercow Victim of “Witch Hunt”

The senior official responsible for security and order in the House of Commons has dismissed bullying allegations against John Bercow and said the Speaker is the victim of a “witch hunt”. The extraordinary intervention in defence of beleaguered Bercow by Serjeant-at-Arms Kamal El-Hajji is published in the official Commons mag, The Housethis morning. El-Hajji wrote:

“There has recently been article after article in the daily newspapers containing speculation and accusations regarding Mr Speaker’s code of conduct and the allegedly ‘unprofessional’ way that he treats staff and colleagues working in Parliament. Due to a considerable lack of evidence supporting these allegations, it seems clear to me that there is a witch hunt against him, whether it is coming from previously disgruntled staff members or ex-colleagues trying to settle old scores of some kind.

“…we feel that there is a witch hunt going on trying to discredit Mr Speaker… I felt it’s important to stand up for what is right and to show support and solidarity to someone who has done such a great deal for Parliament and for the country.”

El-Hajji was selected for the job in 2015 by a panel of MPs headed by Bercow – he would not have got the job without the Speaker’s approval. Nice way to pay him back…

El-Hajii’s defence does not address any of the actual bullying allegations, which are extensive. It is in stark contrast to comments made by former Black Rod David Leakey, who said Bercow was unworthy of the office of Speaker. How can bullying and harassment victims have any confidence in Parliament after this display?

UPDATE: A government source condemns the Sarjeant-at-Arms: “He should be neutral in all of this. It’s really beyond unprofessional.” 

Possibly the Stupidest Urgent Question Bercow’s Ever Granted

The Speaker has allowed one UQ from Keith Vaz MP as below:

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the reports of an imminent Saudi/UAE- led coalition attack on Hudaydah port, Yemen and the humanitarian impact.

Of the 7 Urgent Questions tabled today only his mate Vaz’s got granted – inserted just before the Prime Minister addresses the House on the G7 meeting. Ridiculous to ask the Government to comment on a speculated foreign military attack on a third country. What exactly does Bercow expect Alastair Burt to say?

Cummings Threatens Commons Poster Protest

John Bercow has entertained the ridiculous charade of grandstanding Remoaner Damian Collins attempting to compel Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings to come to his committee, allowing a debate on the great pressing issue of our nation tomorrow. Guido is reliably informed that Cummings is threatening to mount some form of protest from the public gallery. One suggestion being  considered, inspired by the epic CBI ‘voice of Brussels’ stunt during the referendum, is that Cummings could unveil a banner during the debate which says “Where the f**k is our £350 million a week for the NHS?” Wouldn’t be the first time he’s hijacked the Six O’Clock News with Vote Leave’s core message…

Bercow’s New Anti-Brexit Car Sticker: “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted Remain”

Back in March, Guido revealed John Bercow had a Bollocks to Brexit sticker in his car window – not a very impartial message for the Speaker to be promoting. This morning Bercow has new sticker on his car. This photo was sent in by a co-conspirator, it says: “Don’t blame me, I voted Remain”. 

Click to enlarge

Sally doubling down?

Leadsom on Bercow

No prizes for guessing who Andrea Leadsom is talking about:

“As you said last week, Mr Speaker, we have a responsibility to safeguard the rights of this House and as Leader of the House I seek to do exactly that, treating all members of parliament with courtesy and respect. I hope and expect all Honourable and Right Honourable members to do likewise.”

Bercow Confesses: I Did Call Leadsom Stupid

The Speaker admits:

“I used the word stupid in a muttered aside. That adjective simply summed up how I felt.”

Doesn’t address whether he used the sexist term “stupid woman”. Doesn’t apologise. Not a good look…

PM: Bercow’s Behaviour “Unacceptable”

Number 10 twist the knife into Bercow:

“PM has seen the alleged remarks and clearly thinks they are unacceptable. If a complaint is made then it should be fully investigated.”

Could the Speaker’s time finally be up?

WATCH: Moment Bercow Flipped Out at Leadsom

This is the moment John Bercow allegedly called Andrea Leadsom a “stupid woman” and “f***ing useless” on Wednesday. In an extraordinarily bad-tempered rant, even by the Speaker’s standards, Bercow eyeballs Leadsom and admonishes her in a particularly aggressive manner. Leadsom is so unimpressed at Bercow’s macho behaviour that she deliberately looks away and refuses to make eye contact. When you watch the video, you can see this visibly infuriates the pint-sized Commons ref, whose bluster builds into an almost deranged crescendo. When the Speaker finishes, the camera pans out. At this point Bercow turns to the left, clearly gesticulates towards Leadsom and appears to say something. An eye-witness tells Guido that Bercow said a number of words, one of which was definitely “outrageous”. Bercow does not deny that he also called her a “stupid woman” and “f***ing useless”. 

The Speaker has previously flat out denied all the recent bullying allegations against him. Guido understands he has not denied this one because he fears footage will emerge proving he did say it. Footage in the Commons is controlled by the Parliamentary Broadcasting Unit. There is always a camera on the Speaker, the PBU will have had the footage, as yet they are not being forthcoming about helping to clear up what was said. As with all parliamentary bodies, all roads lead to the Speaker, so the PBU will be under immense internal pressure to cover this up. This week MPs on the Standards Committee voted to block an investigation into Bercow. He is being protected by the system. Anyone who comes by the footage can leak it to Guido in confidence here

Bercow Cynically Shoring Up Labour Support

John Bercow has remarkably granted an emergency SO24 debate to Labour on money resolutions based on exact same Urgent Question he granted to Afzal Khan last week. This is highly unusual behaviour from the Speaker – it is a repeat that allows Labour to bash the government using an emergency measure for what is objectively not an urgent issue. Tory sources say it as ridiculous that Bercow would even hear the application yet alone grant an SO24 debate. That is not the only curious decision the Speaker has made recently… 

There was a very big showing on the Tory benches at Business Questions today. Bercow was faced with more questions from the government side than just about ever before. For the first time in years, he chose to cut Business Questions short.

Then there was his grandstanding during the Points of Order after PMQs yesterday. Bercow delivered a long rebuke to Chris Grayling, accusing him of an “abuse” of parliament by failing to give Labour enough warning about his statement on the East Coast Main Line. Bercow issued a direct warning to the government, referring to his nine years in the Commons and, with classic hyperbole, boasting about how they can’t “stop me”. The Labour benches loved it…

“I hope that that message is heard loudly and clearly on the Government Front Bench, at the highest level, by the people in particular by whom it needs to be heard. If I have to make the point again on future occasions, and to use the powers of the Chair to facilitate the rights of this House in other ways, no matter what flak emanates from the Executive, I will do so in the future, as I have ​always done over the past nine years, and no one and nothing will stop me doing my duty by the House of Commons.”

A pattern is emerging. Yesterday morning Guido revealed Bercow had worked with Labour and advised them on how they could use a humble address motion to attempt to force the government to release private papers on Brexit. This behaviour from the supposedly impartial Speaker left Tory MPs understandably livid.

So what is he doing? Bercow is reliant on the support of Labour MPs to keep him in his job. His position will only truly come under threat when Labour MPs decide to pull the plug. Over the last few weeks, following the bullying revelations and the emergence of Harriet Harman as a possible successor, Labour’s historic support for Bercow has come into question. It appears Bercow is now, more than ever, granting Labour spurious SO24 debates, Points of Order and even advising them on how to use arcane parliamentary procedures to whack the government, in an attempt to shore up the support he needs on the Labour benches. Why would Labour want to get rid of the Speaker if he grants them everything they ask for and uses his position in the chair to facilitate partisan attacks on the government? Bercow and Labour are undermining the impartiality of the office of Speaker to help him stay in post…

Bercow Worked With Labour on Humble Address

Labour’s latest Brexit hypocrisy comes in the form of their attempt to force the government to reveal its negotiating hand in the Commons tonight. Back in 2016, Keir Starmer promised he would never seek to compel the government to disclose confidential Brexit papers:

“I fully accept that the Government will enter into confidential negotiations for a number of months and that producing a plan should not undermine that process. This is not the first time that I have said that; I have said it repeatedly…. I do… accept that there is a level of detail and of confidential issues and tactics that should not be disclosed, and I have never said otherwise”

Seems he has changed his mind.

Tory MPs and ministers are livid with John Bercow’s role in Labour’s Brexit games. A senior Whitehall source says it was Bercow who first told Starmer about the possibility of using a humble address motion (an arcane parliamentary procedure explained here) to force the government to reveal the papers: “It wouldn’t be happening without him“. Tory MPs are asking why the impartial Commons Speaker, who had a “Bollocks to Brexit” sticker in his car and publicly backed Remain, has been actively coming up with ideas to help Labour’s attempts to undermine Brexit. Bercow’s behaviour on this is riling Tory MPs as much as any of the other revelations about the Speaker over the last few weeks…

Bercow Insists He’s Staying

At business questions Tory MP James Duddridge asked the government whether there would be time for a debate on the qualities required in the next Speaker. Modest, calm, dignified, cool under pressure, punctual, that kind of thing…

Scandal-hit Bercow suggested he is staying put and couldn’t resist delivering a personal slap-down to Duddridge. He said:

“I very gently say to the Honurable Gentleman in terms which are very straightforward and which I know he will be fully able to understand… the Honourable Gentleman will recall I indicated my willingness to continue in the chair in June of last year…”

Things have somewhat changed since then, Mr Speaker.

MPs Cry For “More” Lindsay Hoyle

Let Bercow be in no doubt as to what the Commons thinks of him: MPs cried “more” as Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle stepped in for today’s PMQs. 43 days ’til Bercow promised to stand down…

Bercow Welcomes Vaz Back From Illness

Good news for those concerned about the health of Keith Vaz, who has been missing from parliament after being declared ill, delaying the investigation into his coke and rent boys mishap indefinitely. Vazeline is back at work today. “It’s very good to welcome him back to the Chamber,” said his old friend and protector John Bercow…

Friday Caption Contest

50 Days Until Bercow Promised to Go

Back in June 2009, when he became Speaker, John Bercow promised he would serve “for no more than nine years in total”. 9 years would be June 22 this year, or 50 days from now.[…] Read the rest

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