Bercow’s ‘washing machine’ apology


Published: Wednesday 11th March 2015 by The News Editor

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John Bercow has apologised to a Tory minister for comparing her display in the Commons t o a washing machine.

The Commons Speaker rebuked Work and Pensions Minister Esther McVey after judging her answer during a question time session was too long.

He remarked on Monday afternoon: ” I am reminded of the feeling when one thinks the washing machine will stop – but it does not.”

Ms McVey limited her next answer to 14 words.

But Mr Bercow apologised today to Ms McVey for the “off-the-cuff remark”, which he acknowledged may have been “foolish”.

He added he did not intend to offend the minister.

Raising a point of order, Tory backbencher Heather Wheeler ( South Derbyshire) told the Speaker: “You have always advised members of this House of the importance of showing respect to others in the workplace.

“In that regard, is it appropriate in this House – which is a workplace – that a female minister should have been referred to as a washing machine?”

Mr Bercow replied: “I certainly didn’t say that a member was a washing machine.

“If I caused offence to an honourable member on Monday afternoon in the course of question time in rebuking her for a long answer – though it did result in a somewhat shorter one after that – but if I caused offence by what I said I very happily apologise to that member.

“I intended to cause no offence to her. I hold her in the highest esteem. I hope I ordinarily treat members with great courtesy.

“It was an off-the-cuff remark, it may well have been a foolish one and I apologise for it.”

Published: Wednesday 11th March 2015 by The News Editor

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