- Speaker Bercow admits muttering “stupid” during disagreement with the government’s house leader Andrea Leadsom.
- However, he insists he will continue to speak out “forcefully” when he disagrees with the government.
- Prime minister Theresa May last week called for an investigation into Bercow’s comments.
- The row follows a series of bullying allegations made against Bercow.
LONDON – The House of Commons speaker John Bercow has refused to apologise after he was overheard calling the Leader of the House Andrea Leadsom a “stupid woman.”
Prime Minister Theresa May last week called for an official investigation into Bercow’s alleged comments, with Conservative MPs expected to lodge a formal complaint about the incident.
However, in a statement to MPs on Monday, Bercow insisted that he would “continue to speak out firmly” when he disagreed with the government.
Bercow admitted making a “muttered aside” in which he labelled Leadsom’s handling of business as “stupid” but denied his comments had been in any way directed at her personally.
Defending his comments, he told MPs that he had been referring to Leadsom’s handling of government business, which had been “disrespectful” and “badly handled”.
“It was in that context and that context alone, that having expressed my displeasure in the matter quite forcefully from the chair I used the word ‘stupid’ in a muttered aside,” he said.
“That adjective simply summed up how I felt about the way that that day’s business had been conducted.”
He insisted that “anyone who knows the Leader of the House at all well will have not the slightest doubt about her political ability and her personal character.”
Bercow added he would “continue to speak out firmly for the interests of the whole House and if from time to time it involves disagreeing with the government’s management of business then so be it.”
Bercow’s refusal to apologise will enrage many Conservative MPs who have been calling on him to stand down following a series of recent bullying allegations made against him by former members of his staff.
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