Commons Speaker told to his face to quit in wake of bullying probe

A senior Conservative told Speaker John Bercow to his face that he must quit as MPs debated the bullying culture in the Commons laid bare by an independent probe.

Mr Bercow told MPs he wants complaints about bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct in the Commons to be investigated by an outside body.

But he is facing intense pressure to stand down over his leadership combined with allegations he bullied officials – claims he strong denies.

At the start of an urgent question into the findings of the investigation by High Court judge Dame Laura Cox, Mr Bercow said he had read the report with “great care” and had been “persuaded” by two of her recommendations.

“I firmly believe that the only possible way to resolve this matter is the establishment of a body which is both entirely independent of and external to parliament to hear and adjudicate upon all allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct, including deciding how far to investigate past misconduct,” he said.

But Maria Miller, chairwoman of the women and equalities committee, told the Speaker he should step down.

She said: “The report is clear that there needs to be a complete change in leadership at the most senior level, including you Mr Speaker, as chief officer, if we are, in Dame Laura’s words, to press the reset button.”

Dame Laura’s report found a culture of “deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence” had allowed the mistreatment of staff in the House of Commons to thrive.