John Bercow reveals his disappointment at being snubbed for a peerage

‘I’ve obviously made a lot of enemies’: John Bercow reveals his disappointment at being snubbed for a peerage

  •  John Bercow admitted he would often ‘lose his rag’ in the chamber as speaker
  •  Spoke of his disappointment on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? programme 
  •  Chances of getting a seat in the House of Lords have been hit by bullying claims

Former House of Commons speaker John Bercow admitted he has ‘made a lot of enemies’, amid bullying claims. 

Mr Bercow’s chances of being elevated to the Lords, as is tradition for Commons speakers, were hit earlier this year when Lord Lisvane, clerk of the House of Commons from 2011 to 2014, filed an official bullying complaint against him.

Other allegations of bullying emerged shortly after, with Lieutenant General David Leakey, a former Black Rod, revealing he was filing his own complaint of ‘intimidation and unacceptable behaviour’ by Mr Bercow. 

Former speaker John Bercow’s chances of being given a seat in the House of Lords took a hit when allegations of bullying were made against him

On Radio 4’s Any Questions? programme, Bercow revealed he was disappointed to not be given a seat in the House of Lords after serving as the Commons speaker for ten years. 

During the show, a member of the public questioned whether Speakers should automatically be granted a life peerage. 

Bercow was quick to ‘recuse’ himself from the discussion before speaking at length about his behaviour. 

He said: ‘It was my enormous privilege to serve for just over 10 years as the speaker of the house of commons. 

‘I did my best. I had some successes, I had some failures, I endured controversies, I made friends, I incurred enemies as well.

‘ I’m not going to sit awake at night worrying about it, all I will say is that it was an honour to serve for longer as speaker than any speaker in the post-war period. 

Bercow admitted he made ‘a lot of enemies’ during his ten year stint as House of Commons speaker

‘I’m sure I didn’t please everybody, I know I didn’t. I did my best and I didn’t want to be speaker simply so I could say to my kids or one day, god willing, my grandchildren I served as speaker. I tried to make a difference.’

Mr Bercow’s time as Speaker, from 2009 to 2019, was bedevilled by allegations of political bias, with pro-Brexit Tory MPs accusing him of using his position to wreck moves to deliver the result of the 2016 referendum by acting in cahoots with pro-Remain MPs.

On the radio, Bercow declined to discuss whether the Parliamentary Commission for Standards were investigating him, stating: ‘In due course people will know what the truth is and we’ll have to leave it there.’

He acknowledged that on days he could ‘lose his rag’ in the chamber and was ‘periodically irascible’ but denied that he ever bullied anyone. 

‘What I will say is I fought for change. I wouldn’t take no for an answer and I didn’t think it acceptable simply to allow bureaucratic obstacles we put in the way of doing what was right.’ 

The Any Questions? host Chris Mason questioned Bercow as to whether it hurt being one of the first speakers in ‘hundreds of years’ not to be given a seat. 

Bercow responded: ‘I’m sorry about it yes. I’ll be honest, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t matter and would I like to make a contribution? I would. 

‘I’ve obviously made a lot of enemies and I know that there are people who have got grievances of one sort or another and agendas of their own who think I just don’t fit. 

During the Any Questions? programme Bercow acknowledged he often ‘lost his rag’ in the chamber but denies bullying anyone  

‘I’ll have to let other people make that judgement but I’m just going to go on doing what I think is right, standing up for good causes, celebrating important principles.’

Fellow guests on the show, executive director of The Voice Media Group Paulette Simpson and Shadow Minister for Early Years Tulip Siddiq, praised Bercow for his support through the Windrush scandal, the hiring of the first black female bishop Reverend Rose and the creation of a nursery in parliament.  

A biography of Mr Bercow chronicled the ‘fiendish rudeness’ which he displayed to colleagues including his former private secretary Kate Emms, who was subsequently signed off work due to stress.

The book, John Bercow: Call To Order, by Sebastian Whale, says friends of Ms Emms described him as ‘vile’, ‘unpleasant’, ‘inappropriate’ and ‘appalling’.

In it he is said to have once flown into a rage with a female member of his staff because his toothpaste had been confiscated by airport security. 

The biography also recounts numerous allegations of bullying from varied sources, including one complainant who said that if Mr Bercow’s favourite tennis player, Roger Federer, lost a match ‘you’d know what you would be walking into that morning… he would throw a paddy – stamping, slamming doors, screaming’.

One former Commons employee claimed he saw Mr Bercow in tears after Federer was knocked out of a tournament.

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