Speaker John Bercow has dismissed what he called “downmarket attacks on Parliament” along with claims of bias from hardline Brexiteer MPs.
He described the bitter debates over Brexit as among the worse he has seen in his 22 years as an MP for Buckingham, and said that some of the abuse directed at Parliament and parliamentarians has been “low grade and vulgar to the extreme”.
In a wide-ranging interview with CNN about his time as Speaker, he said he was “entirely unmoved by some of the more downmarket attacks on Parliament that have been launched in recent times.
“They are unworthy, they don’t amount to a row of beans and I’m not intimidated by them,” he added.
He also said of Brexiteers who have claimed bias on his part: “If you are losing the match, it’s quite bad form to blame the referee.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m a remainer enabler. I would say that I’m an enabler of all colleagues across the House who want to express their different points of view.”
“I thought the Brexiteers were in favour of taking back control of Parliament being in the driving seat? Well, they can’t have it both ways.”
Mr Bercow, who has said he will stand down as Speaker on October 31, called the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.2) Act, which PM Boris Johnson labelled the “surrender bill” as “the most logical consequence if a deal isn’t agreed”.
Later in the interview, he came close to tears as he reflected on murdered MP Jo Cox.
The Buckingham MP was shown a video clip of him paying tribute to Ms Cox in the Commons following her death in 2016.
He said: “Any death in such awful circumstances is an outrage and a tragedy.
“Yet this death, in this manner, of this person, our democratically elected colleague Jo Cox is particularly shocking and repugnant.”
Fighting back tears, Mr Bercow told CNN that he remembered the moment “very keenly” and “the sentiment is very raw”.
He said: “Really, Jo was a great exponent of that principle of political difference, personal amiability.
“It should be possible for us as democrats for us to disagree agreeably.”
Ms Cox died on June 16, 2016, after she was shot and stabbed multiple times by Thomas Mair in her constituency of Batley and Spen, West Yorkshire.