Andrew Castle is Leading Britain's Conversation.
12 February 2017, 09:35
The Speaker of the House of Commons has been criticised for telling Reading University students he voted Remain. Here Andrew Castle defends him.
In a question-and-answer session at Reading University John Bercow spoke about his voting stance in the EU Referendum, despite convention dictating that he remains impartial at all times.
The Sunday Telegraph reported that the House of Commons speaker told students that he thought it was better to "stay in the European Union than not".
His spokeswoman has said that the way he cast his ballot has no impact on the way he deals with MPs.
But John Bercow's openness has prompted backlash. Here Andrew Castle defends him.
He said: "I think this is an absolute witch hunt. Now a lot of people don't like John Bercow very much. I understand that. He's a little guy with big opinions, he clearly likes the sound of his own voice, which is not a bad thing for the Speaker of the House of Commons.
"But why this fresh row about political bias? He has stated, outside of the House, at the University of Reading, that he voted to Remain.
"He stated a few other things as well, like he was particularly concerned that we might be able to keep some EU rules on things like parental leave, on working time regulations, and equality."
He went on: "There's this suggestion that he's going to take bias into the chamber, and Brexit is discussed by Parliament, he's going to give more time to a side that he agrees with, rather than a side that he disagrees with. I do not understand this.
"Has he made so many enemies that, in fact, he's brought this witch hunt upon himself? Since when are those things political? Like parental leave, working time regs, equality, why is that, why is that a political football?
"This is rather like the NHS argument isn't it? We've got to start talking about things in an adult manner, not assume everything is one side or the other."
Andrew added: "I don't understand why we're being so childish about this, do you?"
He continued: "Whether you like him, or you don't like him, at least you have an opinion. He's a very, very articulate man. He cares passionately about the job that he's done, that he does...he was talking with students, he was engaging with students...he was talking about all things politics and happy to take questions."