Last year Alex Salmond told Anna Soubry to ‘behave yourself, woman‘ after the pair clashed in the chamber. While it was Salmond who found himself in the firing line on that occasion for his choice of words, Soubry is now back in the spotlight over her Commons etiquette.
John Bercow took the small business minister to task on Friday during a debate about job losses in Sheffield where Labour MPs accused her of lacking compassion. Soubry repeatedly heckled Gordon Marsden as he spoke, leading him to ask: ‘will the minister stop chuntering from a sedentary position?’
The Speaker then launched into a rant — urging Soubry to show ‘a basic dignity’:
‘Order! Minister, you have had your say, and you will have further says. There is something here about a basic dignity.
Just sit and listen. It is not about you; it is about the issue. It is not about the hon. Gentleman either.
Be quiet and listen. That is the end of it. It is not a request; it is an instruction.’
At which point, Bercow couldn’t resist one final dig:
‘I am the arbiter of good order. I handle those matters, and I certainly do not require any advice from a junior minister.’
No doubt the exchange will only fuel John Bercow’s ongoing war with the Conservatives.