ANDREW PIERCE: Deputy Speaker fires parting shot at bossy John Bercow

ANDREW PIERCE: Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing fires a parting shot at bossy John Bercow and says many MPs believe impartiality has been diminished

Traditionally, MPs refrain from criticising an outgoing Speaker of the Commons. But the partisan antics of John Bercow over Brexit have changed all that.

The Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing has publicly attacked Bercow — who is finally standing down at the end of the month — without quite mentioning him by name.

Laing, a front-runner to replace the insufferably pompous Bercow, told me on my LBC radio show: ‘He rightly says the Speaker’s job is to protect minorities. Who is the significant minority in the Commons? The answer: MPs who voted Leave.

Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing has publicly attacked Bercow — who is finally standing down at the end of the month — without quite mentioning him by name

‘We are in a situation where the minority in the Commons is the same as the majority in the rest of the country. That is why we have this imbalance.’

Laing added that many MPs believed ‘impartiality has been diminished’.

The Tory MP for Epping Forest said that after six years in the deputy role she’d learned an important lesson: ‘Your duty to the chair is far greater than your urge to get into an argument. You have got to learn to keep your mouth shut.’

And that’s something that blaring, bombastic John Bercow never understood.

You won’t better Betty, Harriet

Another contender for the Speaker’s chair, Labour’s Harriet Harman, 69, says that electing her would show that women in their 60s are not past it.

Er… Betty Boothroyd’s been there and done that, Harriet. 

In 1992, when she became Speaker, the great lady was 62.

Another contender for the Speaker’s chair, Labour’s Harriet Harman, 69, says that electing her would show that women in their 60s are not past it

Life loses spice for sporty Mims 

Former sports minister Mims Davies clearly enjoyed her whirlwind nine-month stint at the Department for Culture.

Her most recent entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests reveals she snaffled free tickets to Royal Ascot’s royal box, concerts by Hugh Jackman, and the Spice Girls, Capital FM’s Summertime Ball and the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Dior exhibition (with three guests), as well as a trip to Nice to attend the Women’s Football World Cup.

I suspect the perks associated with her new role as employment Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions are not quite as alluring. 

Since he saw off the attempt to replace him as Labour’s deputy leader at the party conference, Tom Watson has been keeping a low profile. 

So low in fact that he rarely bothers to attend Shadow Cabinet any more.

‘He can’t see the point,’ said a friend. 

‘Corbyn never wants him to say anything . . . so he can make his points more effectively in the media than in the Shadow Cabinet.’

Since he saw off the attempt to replace him as Labour’s deputy leader at the party conference, Tom Watson has been keeping a low profile. So low in fact that he rarely bothers to attend Shadow Cabinet any more

Invited to choose her favourite LP for National Album Day last Saturday, Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan plumped for Robbie Williams’s 1998 record I’ve Been Expecting You.

‘My favourite song is No Regrets because it reminds me of my youth,’ added Morgan, hinting at more exciting activities than running through a wheat field (as a certain Theresa May once claimed to have done).

Clearly, Morgan has no regrets about reneging on her previously stated refusal to serve in a Boris Johnson Cabinet.

Meanwhile, Jezza is calling for a public inquiry into arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying: ‘UK advice, assistance and arms supplies to Saudi’s war in Yemen is a moral stain on our country. Arms sales to Saudi must stop now.’

Imran Hussain, the Shadow Minister of State for Justice, is no fan either, declaring: ‘I think Saudi have public beheadings. So not much justice there then.’

Odd then that, in August, Hussain accepted £20,000 from the Saudi UK embassy for a two-week trip for two to Mecca.

Meanwhile, Jezza is calling for a public inquiry into arms sales to Saudi Arabia, saying: ‘UK advice, assistance and arms supplies to Saudi’s war in Yemen is a moral stain on our country. Arms sales to Saudi must stop now’

Geoffrey Cox is letting the good times roll since becoming Attorney General. 

A parliamentary answer reveals that his ascetic predecessor, Jeremy Wright, spent precisely zero on ‘refreshments’ in 2017. 

Under treacle-voiced Cox, the figure rose to a more respectable £603.44. Not enough to crack open a bottle of Chateau Margaux 1787, perhaps, but getting there.

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