Tory bosses have been accused by political opponents of “bullying” John Bercow in refusing to give him a peerage.
Speaking to Sky News, Labour deputy leadership contender Dawn Butler criticised Conservative bosses for breaking with historical convention in failing to nominate the controversial former Commons speaker for a seat in the House of Lords.
But in a robust defence, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he did not think Mr Bercow should be elevated to the upper chamber, telling the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme that Westminster was “a better place” without him.
The former speaker is currently facing a series of allegations that he bullied staff by the former clerk of the House, Lord Lisvane, and the former black rod – the senior official in the House of Lords – Lieutenant General David Leakey.
He was nominated by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after the government declined to do so, amid claims ministers remain annoyed at the role he played in the Brexit debates.
Ministers have, however, said no one should be given a peerage while they face outstanding claims of bullying and abuse.
But speaking to Ridge, Ms Butler said: “We really do need to ask the Conservatives why is it that you haven’t like everybody else ensured that the Speaker of the House is given a peerage? Otherwise I think that is a form of bullying too.”
The Labour frontbencher added: “It is the norm that the Speaker of the House is always given a peerage so I think the first question for me is why hasn’t he been given a peerage from the Conservatives?
“I would like to know the reason why he wasn’t given a peerage. I suspect it’s actually do to with Brexit rather than anything else.
“The other thing is due process has to happen so if you accuse somebody of bullying there has to be due process.
“If John Bercow’s been accused of bullying then there needs to be due process and has he been found guilty or is it just an accusation? And I think those are the things that we have to go through.”
But rejecting her criticism, Mr Jenrick said: “Personally, I wouldn’t offer John Bercow a peerage. I think you have seen some very serious allegations of bullying and harassment from senior, credible people.
“These are important things that need to be investigated before any decision like that is taken and in my own experience, parliament is better place without John Bercow and long may that continue.”
He added: “The prime minister chooses individuals who could sit in the House of Lords as Conservative peers. There’s no obligation on the prime minister to make John Bercow a member of the House of Lords.
“John Bercow never believed in convention himself when he was speaker. He explicitly said that he didn’t think conventions needed to be abided by.
“There should be a high bar on anybody who ends up in the House of Lords, as indeed in the House of Commons, and the allegations against John Bercow need now to be investigated.
“A lot of his conduct is there for all the world to see because it was done sitting in the speaker’s chair in the house of Commons.”
In her interview with Ridge, Ms Butler also set out her pitch to be Labour’s second-in-command, describing herself as the “unity candidate”:
Highlighting her experience, she said: “I have got the temperament to work with everybody and I have worked with everybody in Parliament and right now we need somebody who is going to bring the whole party together and I’m that person.”
Following Labour’s drubbing at the polls, she acknowledged the raft of Labour’s election pledges were “too complex” with “just too much of it”.
She said: “I call it the Toby Carvery Manifesto, there was just too much on the plate and we have to take our time to explain it in bite-sized chunks.”
Ms Butler also called for more diversity in newsrooms after she was confused with a fellow black Labour MP Marsha de Cordova.
She said: “I’ve been in politics for a number of years now, I first came in in 2015 and the fact that people are still getting me confused with other MPs is actually a disgrace.
“It’s not about making a mistake, it’s about making an effort so making an effort so that you can distinguish one black female MP from another black female MP.
“If you have got nobody in a newsroom who can identify us individually then find somebody who can and make sure that your newsroom is more diverse.”
Tory bosses have been accused by political opponents of “bullying” John Bercow in refusing to give him a peerage. Speaking to Sky News, Labour deputy leadership contender Dawn Butler criticised Conservative bosses for breaking with historical convention in failing to nominate the controversial former Commons speaker for a seat in the House of Lords.