Dwarf insult MP 'can work with Speaker John Bercow'

Simon Burns Simon Burns said he had "no reason" to doubt he could be of help to John Bercow

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A Conservative MP who once called House of Commons Speaker John Bercow a "stupid, sanctimonious dwarf" has insisted the pair can work together if he is elected as his deputy.

Simon Burns told The House magazine it was not necessary to be "closest of friends" to gel professionally.

Mr Burns stood down as a transport minister earlier this week to run for the deputy Speakership.

The Speaker has said he is "entirely untroubled" by the remarks.

Mr Burns, MP for Chelmsford, has had a difficult relationship with Mr Bercow, who was himself a Tory MP before taking on his current job in 2009.

During a testy exchange in the Commons in 2010, Mr Burns, then a health minister, insulted Mr Bercow about his height. He later apologised to a group representing people with dwarfism for any offence caused, but not to the Speaker himself.

'Highly professional'

It was greeted with some surprise at Westminster last week when Mr Burns revealed he was running for the deputy Speakership vacated by Nigel Evans, who stood down last month after he was charged with sexual offences.

But Mr Burns told the House: "The deputy Speakers are elected by and responsible to the House of Commons and they work closely with the Speaker. It is no secret that the Speaker and I are not the closest of friends, but you do not need to be close friends to carry out the job successfully.

"In all my jobs in Parliament, whether in government or opposition, I have always behaved in a highly professional way, working with a wide range of different people.

"I have no reason to doubt that the Speaker is equally professional and we would be able to forge a professional working relationship, to the benefit of the smooth running of the House."

The election for the deputy Speaker's role takes place next week. Other candidates include Tory MP Nadine Dorries, another vocal critic of Mr Bercow.

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    emails: I was 13, living in Bristol. It was a Saturday so I was at my riding school. Our riding school mistress had made sure that all the pupils (about 15 of us) listened to the whole funeral in the tack room. Although we were too young to remember his war years, we had a great reverence for him and listened quietly to the whole event, knowing that it was a very sombre day for the country. We did not go riding that day as it was a day of mourning for everyone.

     
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    19:31: Claire Suart

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  11.  
    19:26: Peter Watts

    emails: I was 18 years of age at the time of Churchill's state funeral. I lived in Kingston, but worked at The British & French Bank in the City. In those days we worked half a day on Saturday. The bank was on the corner of King William Street and Arthur Street. To get from Bank underground station to my office I was given a memorandum signed by my manager which I had to show to a policeman if I wanted to cross any road. A colleague brought a cine camera to work to film the funeral as it crossed the junction where Cannon Street joins Eastcheap. His camera was taken apart by the police. It reminds me that terrorism was a concern 50 years ago. A director of the bank invited all the staff into his office, which overlooked the Cannon Street/Cheapside junction, and I have a firm memory of watching the cortege pass from my second floor vantage point.

     
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    19:06: Peter Seddon

    emails: In the summer of 1952 my Father was attending a medical conference in London. Since we lived in Wigan, he used it as an excuse to take his family for a holiday, and to see the sights, ( I was about eight). I remember us walking up Downing Street, and standing outside Number 10, something you sadly haven't been able to do for many years. But my most cherished memory is when we, (my dad, mum, my four year old brother and me) were walking on the pavement outside the Houses of Parliament, about to cross the exit from Parliament's car park. A policeman politely motioned for us to stand still, and a large black limousine drove out and stopped right in front of us, as it waited for a gap in the traffic.

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  14.  
    18:42: Bob Evans

    emails: I can remember at the age of 13 standing with my mother on a very crowded platform at Twickenham Station to watch the steam locomotive-hauled funeral train pass through on its way to Oxfordshire. I remember seeing the flag-draped coffin on a trestle alone in a gleaming parcel wagon especially restored for this journey. Local shops removed their normal window dressings - photos of Sir Winston were displayed instead.

     
  15.  
    18:24: Gerald Clipp

    emails: I was 14 years old in January 1965. I lived in Fulham and was attending Elliott Comprehensive in Putney. One night, straight after school I went to Westminster to pay my respects to Sir Winston Churchill. The queue went along the Embankment over Lambeth Bridge and back along the opposite embankment. It took a long time to reach the chapel. There was a military guard on each of the four corners. I remember each one was standing perfectly still the whole time. I don't think you were allowed to stop moving once inside.

     
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    emails: I remember watching the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill very vividly. I lived in Washington, DC and I had to go out and buy my first television set so that I could watch his funeral. And getting up at about 5:00 am so as not to miss it. It will be something that I will never forget. Sir Winston was one of the greatest prime ministers the UK has had.

     
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  21.  
    17:38: Donald Ian Atkinson

    emails: We watched the funeral on TV at home in Letchworth, we had the day off school. My father (Donald Atkinson), a Royal Marine Commando during the war, cried. My mother said she had never see him cry before. I never saw him cry again. I don't believe my father, or many of his generation, respected anyone more than Winston Churchill.

     
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  24.  
    17:19: David Robinson

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    16:18: Paul Jenkins

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    emails: I was just 11 years old at the time of the funeral. We were told about Churchill by the Head Master and were all very excited at the prospect of a day off school for the funeral. We watched the funeral on a TV in the library I recall. The huge TV was wheeled in & we sat in almost complete silence as the service went on.

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  38.  
    15:05: Kay-Lesley Hallam Black, Belper

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    On the 30th of January 1965 he watched and wept in gratitude at the passing not just of this great Briton and inspirational leader of the nation. He thanked God for Churchill's 90 years and at that time his 50 - and I too have kept faith with that again today thanks to your extensive and comprehensive coverage! Only we British can put on a ceremony with such superlative solemnity and dignity!

     
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    14:41: Adrian Chojnacki

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    14:30: 'Gave the roar to the British lion' BBC News Channel

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  43.  
    14:23: Georgette McCready

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  45.  
    14:16: John Drake

    emails: I was living in Middleburg in Holland on the day of Churchill's funeral. It seemed to me on that day that Holland came to a standstill to honour the great man.

     
  46.  
    14:10: Robin Pyman

    emails: I was at school in Oxford. A large number of us went down to the railway line that ran alongside the Oxford canal at the bottom of our playing fields and stood alongside the track, bowing our heads as the great man's train passed by, taking him to his final resting place. We were all in awe. He was our hero.

     
  47.  
    13:56: Ina Holmen

    emails: My entire elementary school in Canada was brought into the gymnasium where the funeral procession was viewed on an elevated television placed near the stage. I remember it being similar to Remembrance Day with speeches, flags, and dignitaries from veterans groups present.

     
  48.  
    Tweet @BBC_HaveYourSay 13:53: Jan Shoesmith

    @4TBookworm tweets: Amazing to think Churchill's funeral was 50 yrs ago today. it's the first news item I ever remember I was 5 & had measles #Churchill

     
  49.  
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  50.  
    13:43: Havengore on the move

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  51.  
    Email talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk 13:35: Send us your comments

    Rosemary Pettit emails: On the day of his funeral I was a know-it-all undergraduate with arrogant ideas, determined not to pay homage to an imperialistic war leader. So I ignored the whole thing but couldn't resist turning on the radio for the occasion. Sharing the top floor of a flat high in Hampstead I was quite unprepared for the fly-past which, like a thunder-clap, roared straight over my head. Suddenly, the superciliousness evaporated, the tension fell away and I felt united with all the good people who had lived and breathed during the war, and were even now gathered by St Pauls and the Thames, round their televisions and all over the world. Thank you RAF for bringing me to my senses.

     
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  53.  
    13:15: John Phillips

    emails: As I watch the re-run of Sir Winston Churchill's funeral I can remember the events quite clearly... Winston Churchill was my 'hero'. My mother, who came from Forest Gate, had endured the Blitz and had always maintained huge respect for "Mr Churchill", had told me countless stories of the war and how he had inspired the nation to victory.... To our disappointment when we got to London, the queues were enormous. However that fact in itself made me realise just how much loved Churchill was and we comforted ourselves with the thought that this had made the enterprise worthwhile.

    We got back around 2 am and the next day, morning school was cancelled so that we could all watch the funeral of the 'Greatest Briton' as Mo Mowlam later called him.

     
  54.  
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  55.  
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  56.  
    13:04: Watching the funeral

    Brian Giles emails: Churchill's funeral will always be remembered by me, as on the Thursday before the funeral we had bought our first television from Radio Rentals, it was black and white and I watched the funeral on it with my parents.

     
  57.  
    13:03: Churchill's hearse

    Christopher Meeking emails: My grandfather, Charles Meeking, drove the hearse that took Winston Churchill's casket from the Festival Hall Pier to Waterloo Station as he was the senior driver for Kenyon's Funeral Services in London. My father had a picture from a broadsheet newspaper of the hearse and my grandfather clearly visible through the windscreen - it may well still be in the loft at my mother's house.

     
  58.  
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    Havengore passing underneath Blackfriars Bridge

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  59.  
    12:56: John Emmerson

    emails: My Dad took me to see the funeral procession, I was 10 years old and we travelled from Warrington down to London on a coach. I fell asleep on the way back and woke up in Wigan!

     
  60.  
    12:54: Michael Smith, Ottawa

    emails: As a 17 year old I had gone to the abbey to pay my respects to Churchill the night prior to the funeral. After a five hour or longer slow walk with what seemed like thousands of other mourners that crossed the Thames twice I finally passed the great man lying in state. To this day I respect Winston Churchill as the greatest Englishman ever and we were lucky to have had him.

     
  61.  
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  62.  
    12:51: Paul Sayles, Misawa, Japan

    emails: I was living in Dunoon, Scotland at the time and watched the entire event on TV. I think all of my family was moved by the rendering of honours by the crane operators as Sir Winston passed the docks on his way home. I still remember the feeling 50 years on as if it was that day.

     
  63.  
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    Havengore

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  64.  
    12:45: Tower Bridge opens
    Tower Bridge

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  65.  
    12:44:

    emails: I was seven at the time of the funeral, and we had not long had a television. It was switched on for the early part of the ceremony, but, unfortunately, we were in the middle of moving from Cheshire to Shropshire, and had to go house-hunting on that day, it being a Saturday. Consequently, much as I wanted to stay at home and watch the funeral, I couldn't. I've regretted this for fifty years - I am looking forward to seeing the recording later!

     
  66.  
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  67.  
    12:42: 'Fitting tribute' BBC News Channel
    The Havengore recreating Winston Churchill's funeral cortege

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  69.  
    12:29: 'Proud day' Daily Politics Live on BBC Two

    Asked if it is a "sad day" for his family, Rupert Soames says it quite the contrary. "It is a proud day. It is a triumph he is still remembered," he tells the Daily Politics. "What could be better."

     
  70.  
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  71.  
    12:22: Peter

    emails: I remember, age 11, seeing his funeral on TV. My mum had turned it on. Even then, I knew he was special, but the scale of his funeral made that clear. Now, having read his books, and others, I realise he was a complex and fallible man, who became an extraordinary leader when put under extreme pressure.

     
  72.  
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    David Cameron at Churchill ceremony

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  73.  
    12:17: 'Great reforming home secretary'

    Rupert Soames, one of Churchill's grandsons, says he was one of the few people in the country who was "cross" on the day of the funeral because, as a five-year old, he was deemed too young to attend. Mr Soames, who remembers sitting on his grandfather's knee during weekends in the country, tells the BBC's Daily Politics that Churchill should be remembered as more than a wartime prime minister - adding that he commissioned the Beveridge Report in the 1940s and was "one of the great reforming home secretaries" before World War One.

     
  74.  
    12:15: Tony Guise

    emails: Although I lived in Aston, Birmingham, I so clearly remember the monochrome coverage from the BBC, as my parents and other family members gathered around our tiny television. I was seven-years old and shall never forget the sense of an historic moment. Never thought that memory would still be with me 50 years later!

     
  75.  
    12:14: Colour-coordinated wreaths
    Leaders of UK political parties with wreaths at Houses of Parliament

    Labour leader Ed Miliband, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and Prime Minister David Cameron laid appropriately-coloured wreaths during the service at the Houses of Parliament.

     
  76.  
    12:08: John Simpson on Churchill

    The BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson examines how an all-too-human politician became a great wartime prime minister.

    Winston Churchill giving V-for-victory sign
     
  77.  
    12:01: Tories 'rule out post-election deal with UKIP'

    Conservative chairman Grant Shapps has ruled out any post-election deal with UKIP should there be another hung parliament. Speaking at a campaign event, Mr Shapps said May's election was set to be "incredibly close" and his party was solely focused on gaining power in its own right.

     
  78.  
    11:59: Philip Keevill

    emails: 50 years ago today I was in London, paying my respects to Sir Winston Churchill. I'd seen something on the BBC News the evening before and told my Mum I'd like to go. We were living 30 miles from Preston at the time. My Mum didn't hesitate. We went to Preston station, bought tickets for the overnight sleeper train, and headed south. When we came out of Westminster Abbey, the press pounced on us. Apparently we were the last people to be admitted, and we were in that evening's papers!

     
  79.  
    11:57: Wreath leaves Tower of London
    Wreath carried from Tower of London to Havengore

    A wreath is being carried from the Tower of London to the Havengore boat, which will then carry it along the Thames to Westminster.

     
  80.  
    11:52: Sense of destiny
    Celia Sandys

    Churchill's grandaughter Celia Sandys says her grandfather had a "huge sense of his destiny" and was the "man Britain needed at that time".

     
  81.  
    @BBCArchive 11:51: BBC Archive
    Churchill

    tweets: Would Churchill's depression have prevented him becoming PM today? http://bbc.in/1DmUaec #BBCChurchill

     
  82.  
    11:50: Rob Thornton, Bines Green

    emails: Churchill's funeral was one of the few things I remember vividly from my childhood... I was a 13-year old schoolboy at the time... My parents, who had both been involved in the war - my father serving in the Army - watched in silence on TV and I clearly remember the cranes on the river dipping in salute. Their reverence was a very salutary lesson in what being a truly great man really meant and I have never forgotten that.

     
  83.  
    11:48: Professor David Durling

    emails: I grew up in London in the shadow of World War Two, and had a keen sense of gratitude to Churchill. As an 18-year old, I found a place among the wharves near Blackfriars Bridge, and paid my respects as the Havengore sailed past. I found myself entirely alone, and it was a moment never to be forgotten.

     
  84.  
    11:47: Gift of the gab
    Winston Churchill giving a speech in Walthamstow in 1945

    Winston Churchill is known as one of history's greatest orators, and he attributed his legendary speech-making skills to an Irish-born politician who taught him the gift of the gab as a young man, says the BBC's Greg McKevitt.

     
  85.  
    11:44: Commons 'man through and through'

    Commons Speaker John Bercow has been paying tribute to Churchill as a parliamentarian. Speaking at a special commemoration service in Parliament, Mr Bercow said the wartime leader was a House of Commons "man through and through" and had resisted blandishments to join the House of Lords. Churchill, he said, believed that the "cut and thrust of debate and the searing searchlight of scrutiny were vital".

     
  86.  
    11:42: Barbara Lancaster MBE, Leeds

    emails: I still remember my father, who was a staunch Labour man, saying there will never ever be another politician like him in your lifetime.

     
  87.  
    11:37: Boat ceremony BBC News Channel

    The BBC's Ben Brown, at the Tower of London, says in about 30 minutes a wreath made by Royal British Legion - at the poppy factory in Richmond - will be carried to the Havengore, the boat which carried the wartime prime minister's coffin along the Thames 50 years ago. The boat will then set off on the same journey again from the Tower of London to Westminster, and Tower Bridge will be raised at 12:45 GMT as a mark of respect. Once it reaches the waters opposite the Palace of Westminster, there will be special service and wreath laying in the waters.

     
  88.  
    11:33: Havengore in 2015
    The Havengore docked in London

    And here it is in 2015, being prepared ahead of the anniversary events.

     
  89.  
    11:31: Havengore 50 years ago
    Winston Churchill's coffin on a boat - the Havengore - on the Thames on the day of his funeral

    Here's the Havengore 50 years ago.

     
  90.  
    11:29: Stephen O'Sullivan

    emails: I watched the funeral on the BBC, I was five-years old and it is the first television memory I have, something I've always remembered to this day. I knew it must have been important because things were quiet and everybody knew that it was happening. I remember the procession, the train, the boat journey past the dipped cranes on the Thames. I asked my mother whether everybody got a funeral like this and she replied "oh no, this is different, he was an important man". Older now, I appreciate how important.

     
  91.  
    11:21:

    If you have any pictures of Churchill's state funeral 50 years ago, or other relevant pictures you'd like to share, please send them to yourpics@bbc.co.uk.

     
  92.  
    11:20: US/UK special relationship 'alive' BBC News Channel
    Winston Churchill with US President Franklin Roosevelt in 1943

    The US ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, tells the BBC he is "inspired every day" by Sir Winston Churchill. He says the wartime leader was the first person to be made an honorary citizen of the United States and the special relationship between the US and the UK is still "alive" as the countries stand "shoulder to shoulder" in the fight against Ebola in Africa and ISIS in Iraq.

     
  93.  
    11:17: Boris on 'extremist losers'

    Boris Johnson, who recently published a biography of Churchill, has been making a few headlines of his own this morning. In an interview with The Sun, he has described men who join religious extremist groups such as Islamic State as "losers" who are likely to be users of pornography. Such individuals often turn to violence to boost their own-self esteem, he has suggested.

     
  94.  
    11:12: 'Spellbinding orator' BBC News Channel
    Winston Churchill making a speech during the 1945 election campaign

    Historian Sir David Cannadine pays tribute to Churchill, describing him as a "spellbinding orator" and "at times a marvellous determiner of military strategy" who was regarded as a saviour of the country. "Even though he was a controversial figure, I think that verdict has stood the test of time," he says.

     
  95.  
    @BBCArchive 11:05: Archive footage

    are live tweeting archive footage from Churchill's funeral, replicating the BBC coverage of that day as it unfolded in 1965. Go to https://twitter.com/BBCArchive to follow the coverage.

     
  96.  
    11:01: Warship aspirations

    Not all senior politicians are in the Commons for the Churchill commemoration, with politics continuing elsewhere. On a visit to Portsmouth, Chancellor George Osborne says the UK should aspire to build a new warship every two years and to make the Royal Navy the "most modern" fleet in the world.

     
  97.  
    10:52: Cameron lays wreath
    David Cameron lays a wreath at Churchill ceremony

    Prime Minister David Cameron lays a wreath at the Churchill commemoration ceremony at the Houses of Parliament.

     
  98.  
    10:51: Migrant election vote BBC News Channel

    The BBC's Louise Stewart tells the BBC News Channel this election is the first time where migrants will swing the vote in certain constituencies - most of them in London and the Midlands. "They don't vote as a blob - so many seats are tightly fought - but they could make a real difference, and they are of course more likely to support parties in favour of immigration."

     
  99.  
    10:46: Havengore ceremony BBC News Channel
    BBC's Ben Brown

    The BBC's Ben Brown is on board HMS Belfast on the Thames, where the Havengore, the boat which carried the wartime prime minister's coffin along the river from Tower of London to Westminster 50 years ago, will make the journey again later. Tower Bridge will be raised at 12:45 GMT for the ceremony.

     
  100.  
    10:39: Migrant election vote

    Let's break away from events 50 years ago for a moment. Migrant voters could have a "decisive" impact in a range of key marginal seats in the forthcoming general election, a new study has found. Almost four million foreign-born voters in England and Wales will be eligible to cast a vote on 7 May, according to a report by academics at the University of Manchester and the Migrants' Rights Network.

     

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