UK Politics

Speaker John Bercow admits muttering word 'stupid'

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Media captionSpeaker John Bercow admits muttering 'stupid' 'as an aside'

Commons Speaker John Bercow has said he "respects all his colleagues" after admitting using the word "stupid" during Commons exchanges.

He said he used the word, reported to have been directed at Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, as a "muttered aside".

He told MPs he had the highest regard for Mrs Leadsom's "political ability and personal character".

But he said he would continue to speak openly and, at times, "disagree" with ministers on their Commons management.

Mr Bercow has faced calls to apologise amid reports he used the phrase "stupid woman" in connection with Commons leader Mrs Leadsom during a row over the scheduling of a government statement on the nationalisation of the East Coast rail franchise last week.

In an unscheduled statement to MPs on Monday as Mrs Leadsom was about to take part in a debate, Mr Bercow said he believed the timetabling of government business had been "badly handled" on the day by the government.

The decision to announce such a major development on the same day as Labour debates on Grenfell and Brexit was "disrespectful" to MPs wanting to speak on those issues, he said.

Explaining what had happened, he said: "Having expressed my displeasure on the matter quite forcefully from the chair, I used the word stupid in a muttered aside.

"The adjective simply summed up how I felt about the way that the day's business had been conducted."

He said he "loved this place" and held all his colleagues in the "highest esteem", adding: "Anyone who knows the leader of the house at all well will not have the slightest doubt about her political ability and personal character."

Speaking later, Mrs Leadsom said she was committed to treating all her colleagues with courtesy and respect and expected the same pleasantries to be shown to all members.

"I take my responsibilities to this House very seriously. As you said last week Mr Speaker, we have a responsibility to safeguard the rights of this House."

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