Chris Bryant: I wouldn’t belittle ‘battered and bruised’ MPs as Speaker
Labour MP Chris Bryant has said he would not belittle “battered and bruised” MPs if he becomes the next Speaker.
Current Speaker John Bercow has already pledged to stand down but wants to see the first stage of Brexit through to its conclusion.
But with allegations of bullying swirling around the Speaker’s chair, there are calls for him to go sooner and the hunt for a replacement is on.
In an interview with The House magazine, Mr Bryant said his first priority would be to respect his parliamentary colleagues.
“We’re all battered and bruised enough in this parliament,” he said.
“So, the first thing for me is I will do everything in my power not to belittle or diminish or lecture MPs from the chair, but, insofar as it is possible, to respect every single person.”
The MP for Rhondda said his first memory of an MP being publicly criticised was by Speaker Michael Martin, who quit in 2009 after a no confidence motion was tabled against him and he was succeeded by Mr Bercow.
Mr Bryant said a woman MP was given a “dressing down” by Mr Martin soon after he was elected in 2001, for reading out a question instead of having memorised it.
“I wanted the ground to swallow me up, because I thought ‘God, I wouldn’t want to be that poor MP’,” he said.
“The things you might say to another person, at a dinner party or in the bar or in casual conversation in the team room, when they’re said from the chair to an MP, it’s just devastating.
“It’s like the headteacher telling you off in front of the whole class and it’s broadcast to the nation and your family is sitting there as well.”
Mr Bryant, an ordained priest, said that part of his work to “refresh” the culture in the Commons would be to hold an event on Twelfth Night, a Shakespearean comedy in which masters become servants for the night in January.
He said: “In the UK, it’s always been the twelfth night when everything is turned upside down.
“I’d like to have some kind of event for the staff who run the building on the 6th January, with MPs serving.”