Diary - Speaker under fire

Up for a run and then to the House for what turned out to be a lot of noise about nothing! Down to the Chamber for PMQs at midday, which was running smoothly until Corbyn allegedly uttered the words: "Stupid woman," under his breath. Someone in the Chamber spotted it and within seconds it was doing the rounds on Twitter. One of my colleagues sitting in front of me managed to catch the Speaker's eye and asked the PM whether this sort of language was appropriate. That opened the floodgates at the end of PMQs when a string of Members leapt to their feet on a Point of Order. The Speaker would not countenance Points of Order immediately, saying they must come after the Statements. But MPs, sensing blood, starting making a hell of a noise, calling for the Speaker to deal with this issue immediately. Mr Bercow backed down, and probably regretted immediately doing so, as he was next in the firing line. As MPs demanded Corbyn return to the Chamber and apologise, Andrea Leadsom got to her feet and challenged the Speaker to apologise for mouthing the same words about her some months ago. All hell broke lose. Everyone wanted a piece of the action and the Speaker was bombarded with Points of Order from all round the Chamber. Eventually calm was restored and the Speaker agreed to look at the evidence and return to the Chamber at 1530 with his verdict. He would, he told us, be inviting Corbyn to return, too. Phew! Back to my office and then to my weekly gathering of the European Scrutiny Committtee with Sir Bill Cash. It was private and did not last long. At 1525 I dropped back down to the Chamber to hear the Speaker's verdict on Corbyn. Corbyn himself did appear, but promptly denied calling the PM a stupid woman. He'd said stupid people. More howls of anguish, mainly from our side of the House. Sir Desmond Swayne brought Members back down to earth, reminding them that, if MPs could not say something derogatory under their breath from time to time, it was time for the thought-police. I do agree, added to which the PM is a resilient woman and has been in politics long enough to withstand some name-calling, not that she even realised Corbyn had made the comment in the first place. Oh, well, it was the end of term and MPs had clearly decided to let off steam. I think the Speaker came off worse. He then got his own back by allowing an emergency debate on, guess what, Brexit! You could not make it up.