One of John Bercow’s deputies has revealed she wants to succeed him as speaker – and said there needs to be “less testosterone and less aggression” in Parliament.
Conservative MP Dame Eleanor Laing used a magazine interview to reveal her plan to succeed the speaker, who has faced calls to quit amid allegations of bullying, which he denies.
She also said there needed to be a change in the atmosphere in Parliament, which she said was still too male-dominated.
Mr Bercow, who has been in the chair since 2009, initially promised to stand down after nine years in the job.
But he has since gone back on that pledge, because he wants to remain in the post to oversee the Brexit process.
“I don’t know when the Speaker will decide to go, but it’s very much his decision,” Dame Eleanor, who has been deputy speaker since 2013, told The House magazine.
“And when he finally does decide that he’s going to go, I expect that there will be a great many candidates to replace him and I would expect the deputy speakers to be amongst those candidates.”
Addressing her own plans, the Epping Forest MP added: “I will try to become speaker when he finally decides to go.
“I am fortunate to have had five years’ experience in the Speaker’s chair.
“There is a lot to be done to take our democratic system onto the next stage.”
A recent report from Dame Laura Cox highlighted Westminster’s culture of bullying and harassment – and Dame Eleanor said this needed to be acted upon.
“You don’t become a greater person by talking down to those who are junior or perceived to be inferior to you,” she said.
“But this is one organisation where there are some people who think that when they get to a certain stage that they have licence to behave in an inappropriate way to other people.”
Dame Eleanor said people at the top had to set an example so you get “a cascade of decent behaviour”.
Addressing the atmosphere in the Commons generally, she said there was “too much aggression” on display at Prime Minister’s Questions.
Having more women in the Commons would change that, Dame Eleanor claimed.
“There’s a certain amount of testosterone which drives this,” she said.
“It is a scientific fact that if you have less testosterone present, then you will have less aggression.
“So, if you have more women, you have less testosterone and less aggression.
“I put that as a scientific fact.”