Andrew Bridgen Apologises After Comment About Paddy Ashdown

Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, has apologised in the House of Commons for a remark he made about the recently deceased Paddy Ashdown, the former Leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Layla Morgan, the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, said in a point of order to the Speaker:

“On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As you are aware, at the beginning of Prime Minister’s questions when I was expressing my deep sadness at the loss of Lord Ashdown and his concern for the state of where we are now, the hon. Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) loudly shouted from a sedentary position, “From the grave.” I find such a comment disgraceful, and I ask for guidance on how the hon. Gentleman might, for example, retract such a statement and on whether it was becoming of the sort of conduct that we should expect from Members of this House”.

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, replied:

“I did hear those words. I did not hear a particular Member, and I did not see a Member mouth those words, but I did hear those words. I think it was most unfortunate that that was said. People sometimes say things instinctively and rashly, but it was most unfortunate. The hon. Lady was perfectly properly paying tribute to an extremely distinguished former Member of this House and someone that many would regard as an international statesperson. What was said should not have been said. If the person who said it wishes to take the opportunity to apologise, it is open to that person to do so”.

Andrew Bridgen then said:

“Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I will apologise for my remarks if any offence was caused to any Member of the House”.

John Bercow Makes Statement on Brexit Supporters Calling Anna Soubry a Nazi

Anna Soubry

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has made a statement in the Commons following the disruption of a television interview earlier today where Brexit supporters called Anna Soubry “a Nazi”. Bercow said:

“I have indeed been made aware of recent incidents involving aggressive and threatening behaviour towards Members and others by assorted protesters who have donned the yellow vests used in France. When I refer to “recent incidents”, I am more specifically referring to reports I have had of incidents that have taken place today, in all likelihood when many of us, myself included, have been in this Chamber. The House authorities are not technically responsible for the safety of Members off the estate—that is and remains a matter for the Metropolitan police—but naturally, I take this issue very seriously and so, I am sure, do the police, who have been made well aware of our concerns.”

The protesters are also alleged to have said that they hoped Soubry and Kay Burley, a Sky interviewer, were sexually assaulted.

Soubry said during the interview with Burley:

“I don’t have a problem with people demonstrating and making their views heard. I have a real problem with people who call me a traitor or ‘Soubry, you Nazi’. That is a criminal offence and I’m a criminal barrister. I’m also a lass from Worksop, so I don’t get scared by these people or intimidated. I was a reporter during the miners’ strike, so I don’t feel physically intimidated. My difficulty is I want to respond and you mustn’t, so I’m really behaving myself.”

John Bercow Referred to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has been referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after it was alleged that he called Andrea Leadsom “a stupid woman”. The complaint has come from James Duddridge, the Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East, who also called for audio and video evidence to be carefully examined.

Bercow, who has been accused of numerous serious allegations which he denies, had previously said that he would stand down by June 2018.

David Davis Ordered to Appear Before Brexit Select Committee

David Davis, the Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, has been told by John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, to appear before the Brexit select committee or face being held in contempt of Parliament. The Government had agreed to publishing internal reports about Brexit but has censored part of the text before they were handed to the Brexit select committee.

David Davis didn’t appear at the debate, but Robin Walker, speaking to MPs said:

“The sectoral analysis is a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum. The House of Commons itself has recognised that, although Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament, the Government also have an obligation to consider where it will be in the public interest for material to be published”.

Keir Starmer, the Shadow Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, said in the debate:

“”Transparency” and “accountability” are two words this Government do not understand. On 1 November, after a three-hour debate, this House voted in favour of a Humble Address requiring all 58 sectoral analyses to be passed to the Brexit Select Committee—not some of the reports, not redacted copies, but the full reports. The Government did not seek to amend the Humble Address, nor did they vote against the motion. After your advice to us, Mr. Speaker, the Government accepted that the motion was binding. It is simply not open to the Secretary of State to choose to ignore it and to pass to the Select Committee the documents he chooses. Whether he is in contempt of Parliament is a matter we will come to at some later date, but he is certainly treating Parliament with contempt”.

Kenneth Clarke, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, said:

“If the Government wished to resist the publication of the papers that they had, they should have voted against the motion, and if they wished to qualify or edit the papers that they had, they should have sought to amend the motion. We cannot allow, post-Brexit, the reduction of parliamentary sovereignty to a slightly ridiculous level. Will the Minister at least consider the possibility of sharing, at least with the Chairman of the Exiting the European Union Committee, the papers in the original form they were in when we voted on the motion, before this editing process started? The House would then no doubt be guided by the Chairman of the Select Committee on changes and omissions that are legitimately in the national interest and should be made”.

John Bercow said during a point of order into Davis’s behaviour:

“Beyond that formal statement, and in the hope that this is helpful to Members in all parts of the House, I would emphasise that we all heard what the Chair of the Brexit Select Committee had to say. He indicated that the Committee had made a public statement and requested an urgent audience with the Secretary of State, and that information from the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) was extremely important. The Minister responded, indicating a willingness on the part of the Secretary of State to meet, and to do so soon. May I very politely say to the Minister, who is always a most courteous fellow, that he was wise to make that statement? When it is suggested that that meeting should be soon, it means soon; it does not mean weeks hence. It means very soon indeed. Nothing—no commitment, no other diarised engagement—is more important than respecting the House, and in this case, the Committee of the House that has ownership of this matter, and to which the papers were to be provided. That is where the matter rests. As and when matters evolve, if a further representation alleging contempt is made to me, I will consider it very promptly and come back to the House. I hope that the House knows me well enough to know that I will do my duty”.

Speaker Responds to Point of Order over Mike Ashley’s Attack on MPs


John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, has responded to a point of order from Iain Wright over Mike Ashley’s refusal to attend a select committee. Ashley also criticised MPs saying “they don’t care about the people, they care about the business of politics”.

Wright said:

“On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I seek your advice and guidance on a matter of principle for this House? Select Committees have the power through this House to send for persons, papers and records, to enable them to obtain oral and written evidence to allow them to undertake their work. In keeping with this long-established power, the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, which I chair, has sought to take evidence from the owner of Sports Direct, Mr Mike Ashley, on the treatment of workers at his company. That was in response to reports that workers at Mr Ashley’s warehouse in Shirebrook were not being paid the minimum wage. I have received correspondence from workers at Sports Direct, who have told me of practices such as employees being made to clock out but having to continue to work so that wages were not over budget; of staff kept for an hour after their scheduled finish time without pay to tidy shops; and of workers finishing work at 5 am and being required back at work two hours later.

We on the Select Committee naturally and not unreasonably wish to question Mr Ashley on the review of working conditions at his company that he announced he would undertake personally. After his refusal to accept our initial invitation to attend on a mutually convenient date, last week the Committee formally ordered Mr Ashley to attend on 7 June. Yesterday he indicated to the press, although not to the Committee, that he has no current intention of attending the Committee. He referred to the order to attend as “an abuse of the parliamentary process” and described the Committee as “a joke”. I do not think that scrutinising reports of Victorian-type employment conditions in modern-day Britain is a joke.

Can you confirm, Mr Speaker, that the Committee has acted in accordance with the procedures of this House? Can you advise me what steps can now be taken to ensure that Mr Ashley complies with the very reasonable request, and then the formal order, of the BIS Committee?”

Bercow replied:

“I am grateful to the Chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee for notice of his point of order. The House delegates to nearly all its Select Committees the power to send for persons, papers and records. Each Committee is free to decide whom to invite to give oral evidence, and if the invitation is refused, the Committee may decide to make an order for the attendance of a witness.

In response to the hon. Gentleman’s direct question, therefore, it appears to me that so far the proper procedures have been followed. As long as the Committee is acting within its terms of reference, the House expects witnesses to obey the Committee’s order to attend. If, after due consideration, the hon. Gentleman’s Committee wishes to take the matter further, the next step would be to make a special report to the House, setting out the facts. The hon. Gentleman may then wish to apply to me to consider the issue as a matter of privilege, and to ask me to give it priority in the House. Under procedures agreed to by the House in 1978 and set out on page 273 of “Erskine May”, this application should be made to me in writing, rather than as a point of order. I would then be happy to advise him on the options open to him”.

Speaker John Bercow Criticises Minister

john bercow

John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, stopped a Minister’s answer by calling it “boring”. Bercow’s negative intervention came as Greg Hands, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was answering a question from Jeremy Quin.

Bercow said:

“Order. Sit down. It is a terrible waste of time—long-winded, boring and unnecessary”.