Speaker Bercow attacks ‘sexist, racist’ Daily Mail

John Bercow

Paper is a bigoted comic cartoon strip, says Speaker, who is supposed to be a neutral figure in parliament

BY Eliot Sefton LAST UPDATED AT 10:58 ON Wed 8 Jun 2011

Whatever happened to the supposed neutrality of the Speaker of the Commons? John Bercow, the current incumbent, has lost his cool and called the Daily Mail a "sexist, racist, bigoted, comic cartoon strip" in response to months of criticism from the paper's parliamentary sketch writer Quentin Letts.

Bercow, who made the comment during a Q&A session with the Independent's political columnist Steve Richards, also apologised for breaking the trade descriptions act by describing the Mail as a "newspaper".

Letts is not the only political writer to make fun of Bercow, who was a controversial Speaker right from the start, and is disliked by members of his own Conservative party. The fact that his wife, Sally, is an out-an-out Labour supporter, prone to publicity-seeking, hasn't helped.

But Letts has enjoyed sticking the knife in more than most. He recently called Bercow "preening, sycophantic, short-tempered and grotesque" and on another occasion wrote: "Effortless humour is one of the things Squeaker Bercow so palpably lacks. Everything about him, even his wit, is by numbers, worn heavily, as though out of a book."

As well as getting back at the Mail, Bercow grabbed the chance of the Q&A to defend his wife's daily Twitter comments.

"She's free to do what she wants," he said. "Sally is my wife, but not my chattel or my property. The duty of impartiality doesn't extend to her ­ there isn't a Mrs Speaker ­ and it's a spectacularly sexist idea that Sally should have to be silent." · 

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