Don’t argue the toss with me mate, Speaker John Bercow tells 'longwinded' MP

Greg Mulholland was the target of the Speaker's ire

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Indy Politics

The House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has slapped down an MP for being “longwinded” and arguing back.

Mr Bercow told Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat, not “to argue the toss with the chair”.

“The Hon Gentlemen will resume his seat. It’s a discourtesy to the House to be long-winded, especially when exhorted not to be,” he told the MP, who was in the middle of spekaing.

Mr Mullholland, who represents Leeds North West, took issue with the instructions, but before he could finish his protest Mr Bercow added:

“Order! Don’t argue the toss with the chair, Mr Mulholland, don’t shake your head, mate. I’m telling you what the position is: you were too long.”

The Lib Dem began to leave the chamber, after which the Speaker added: “Leave, that’s fine. We can manage without you. Order! Order! Mr Mulholland, learn it, man. You were too long and you need to learn. That’s the end of it.”


The discussion continued, but as the session drew to a close, Mr Bercow addressed the issue again.

He explained the approach he had taken:

“Demand always exceeds supply, rather as in the health service – under any government. And for the avoidance of doubt, I hope colleagues will understand that I appreciate – I’ve been on those benches – all honourable members’ questions are important,” he said.

“Of course members feel very strongly about them, I am sympathetic to that, I respect that. But people can’t simply take the attitude ‘my question’s important and therefore I can be much longer’ because that’s not fair on other members. I’m simply trying to be fair to all members.”

Mr Mulholland is one of eight remaining MPs to belong to the Liberal Democrats, who previously supported David Cameron’s coalition government in the last parliament.