John Bercow: Ex-Speaker says he is victim of a conspiracy in peerage row
Former Commons Speaker John Bercow has said there is a "conspiracy" to keep him out of the House of Lords.
He named no names, but said it was "blindingly obvious" that there was a "concerted campaign" to prevent him from being given a peerage.
Previous Speakers have been ennobled when they retire, entitling them to sit in the House of Lords.
The ex-Conservative MP has been accused of bullying by former Commons colleagues, but denies the claims.
Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said the claims must be looked into, but there was "no obligation" on the Prime Minister to give Mr Bercow a peerage.
The controversial speaker stood down in October after a decade in the job, during which he faced accusations of bias over Brexit as well as questions over his own behaviour towards colleagues.
Downing Street has refused to put forward Mr Bercow's name for consideration by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Instead, the Labour opposition has nominated him.
In an interview with the BBC's Broadcasting House programme, Mr Bercow said while "every Speaker for the last couple of hundred years" had received a peerage, he accepted there was no automatic entitlement to one.
Asked whether he believed his chances of a peerage had disappeared, he replied: "I didn't say that. You asked me whether there was a concerted campaign, whether there was a conspiracy, whether there was an organised effort and I said it is blindingly obvious that that is so."
Mr Bercow is facing at least one formal complaint regarding his behaviour during his decade in the Speaker's Chair.
He has dismissed claims there was a pattern of bullying towards his subordinates, arguing that the "vast majority" of his relationships with colleagues both inside and outside Parliament were constructive.
He told Broadcasting House that while he had had two disagreements with David Leakey, the former army officer who served as Black Rod in the House of Lords, "neither remotely amounted to bullying" and there was no "regular rancour" between the two.
Bercow's run-ins with his party
- 2014: He enrages David Cameron and his allies when he cuts him off during Prime Minister's Questions and tells him to sit down
- 2015: He survives an attempt by Conservative whips to oust him just before the election
- 2017: He suggests Donald Trump is not welcome in Parliament during state visit
- 2018: He is accused of calling cabinet minister Andrea Leadsom a "stupid woman" in the Commons
- 2019: He is accused of "unilaterally changing" parliamentary rules after a row over a government Brexit defeat
"Almost eight or nine years later he is still moaning about the fact that we argued," he said. "He was, from my point of view, a very marginal figure. He was a bit-part player in my day to day existence."
And while he accepted his relationship with his former private secretary Angus Sinclair had broken down, he believed the two had parted on good terms and it was "absolutely not true" that he had thrown his phone at him.
"On issue after issue after issue, I wanted to do things differently and felt I had a mandate for modernisation and overdue change and he was very resistant to that," he said. "It was a relationship that, despite our best endeavours, did not work.
"He was not bullied, there was no bullying. There was an honourable difference of opinion and that is the end of it."
Mr Bercow, who has written a new book, said he himself been a victim of snobbery and anti-Semitism during his time in Parliament.
Labour MP Dawn Butler, who is campaigning to be the party's deputy leader, suggested the reason the government has not nominated Mr Bercow was "due to Brexit" and the ex-Speaker's hostility to the UK leaving the EU.
"If John Bercow has been accused of bullying then there needs to be due process. Has he been found guilty or [is it] just an accusation?" she said.
"We really do need to ask the Conservatives why is it that you haven't, like everyone else, ensured that the Speaker of the House is given a peerage. Otherwise I think that's a form of bullying too."
But Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said Mr Bercow had regularly defied the rules when he was Speaker and the convention of ex-Speaker going to the Lords was just that - a convention and not a rule.
"The prime minister chooses individuals who could sit in the House of Lords as Conservative peers," he told Sky News. "There's no obligation on the prime minister to make John Bercow a member of the House of Lords."
"I think what's important here is that there should be a high bar on anybody who ends up in the House of Lords as indeed in the House of Commons. The allegations against John Bercow need now to be investigated."