Pressure on John Bercow after three Tory MPs resign from Commons committee he chairs

MPs step down over concerns current Speaker is 'not the right person' to resolve 'numerous and serious issues' relating to harassment of staff in Parliament

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
@BenKentish
Tuesday 23 October 2018 16:48
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Maria Miller calls for House Speaker John Bercow to resign

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow is facing fresh pressure to quit over allegations of bullying after three Conservative MPs resigned from a committee designed to improve working life in Westminster.

Will Quince, Mims Davies and Anne Milton stepped down from the Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion, which is chaired by Mr Bercow, in the wake of a damning report on the failures of parliamentary leaders to tackle bullying and harassment of staff.

The report, by Dame Laura Cox QC, questioned whether the current Commons leadership would be able to lead the changes it said were needed.

That includes Mr Bercow, who has faced multiple allegations of bullying, all of which he has strongly denied.

Confirming his resignation, Mr Quince said he did not believe Mr Bercow was able to resolve the "numerous and serious issues" that had emerged about the treatment of staff in Parliament.

Announcing he was quitting "with regret", he said: "However, in the light of the Dame Laura Cox report, sadly I cannot in good conscience remain as a member of the group while John Bercow is chair.

"As much as I personally like John, I have reluctantly reached the conclusion that he is not the right person to resolve the numerous and serious issues."

Ms Davies voiced similar concerns, saying: "I felt that remaining on this [committee] currently did not sit right following Dame Laura Cox's report, and as this committee is chaired by the Speaker, I sadly felt in a difficult position. I did not take this decision lightly."

Mr Bercow has faced calls from some MPs to step down but is understood to be planning to stay in post until next summer.

A spokeswoman for the Speaker said he had accepted the resignation of the three MPs, who she called "stellar members" of the group, "with regret".

She said: "Dame Laura Cox's report has highlighted some of the most significant challenges women face in our parliamentary culture.

"In the spirit of an independent approach, the Speaker feels it is right to reflect on the best means of tackling these cultural issues via the House's response to the Cox report.

"He will therefore consider the future of the reference group following the commission meeting tomorrow."

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