Shailesh Vara in race to be next speaker of House of Commons

Shailesh Vara
Shailesh Vara

Conservative MP Shailesh Vara has hit out at John Bercow, calling him a “playground bully” who has “tarnished the role of Speaking with his biasness.”

Vara, the Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire, is in the running to replace Bercow as Commons speaker. He, along with eight other MPs took part in a hustings event in Westminster on Wednesday (9).

When asked about Bercow and impartiality, Vara said: “No, Speaker Bercow has not been impartial. And frankly speaking, I think he’s tarnished the role of the Speaker with his biasness.

“I think what is required is that we need to rewrite the rule book, and make it absolutely clear what the Speaker can and cannot do in difficult circumstances.

“And that is actually to protect the Speaker as much as protecting Parliament.

“Because no matter how well intentioned the Speaker may be, she or he may take a particular decision and those who are aggrieved by that decision are going to feel that it is not fair.”

Vara also accused Bercow of insulting his colleagues and demeaning them.

“I would say one other thing that recently we’ve had a lot of debate about the standards of MPs in the Commons,” he said, adding: “And given that Speaker Bercow has at times behaved like a verbal playground bully in the way that he treats his colleagues – he insults them, demeans them – I think that he loses all authority to lecture to MPs as to how they should behave when his own behaviour is in question.”

The other candidates for the speaker’s role are Henry Bellingham, Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman, Meg Hillier, Lindsay Hoyle, Eleanor Laing, Edward Leigh and Rosie Winterton.

Bercow, who has held the office since 2009, has announced that he will resign by October 31. The next speaker’s election is due to be held on November 4.