John Bercow opens up about experience of antisemitic abuse

John Bercow opens up about experience of antisemitic abuse


Former Commons Speaker John Bercow has spoken out about being subjected to antisemitic abuse in an interview with GQ Magazine. 

Speaking to Tony Blair’s ex-aide Alastair Campbell, the former Conservative MP discussed the row over antisemitism.

The wide-ranging interview, published on Thursday, followed Bercow’s last day as Speaker last week in which he discussed his decade in the chair.

The 56-year-old, who stood down as MP for Buckingham, told Campbell of the abuse allegedly aimed at him by an individual from “outside Parliament”.

Bercow recalled: “I remember somebody once saying to me, and I’m not going to say who, somebody once saying to me, ‘you know if I had my way, people like you, Berkoff, wouldn’t be in this place.’

“I said to this individual ‘when you say people like me, do you mean people like me in the sense that I’m lower-class or Jewish?’ To which he replied, both.”

Earlier, Bercow denied charges of antisemitism made against Jeremy Corbyn, claiming he had “never detected so much as a whiff of antisemitism” from the Labour leader in the 22 years he was in Parliament.

Bercow’s comments come amid mounting scrutiny into claims of antisemitism in Labour ahead of next month’s election, with the Jewish Chronicle’s front-page urging the public not to back the party this week.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell claimed the party was “saddened” by the front-page, but insisted it was “behind the times.”

“Everything that has been asked of us by the Jewish community we’ve done,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One on Thursday.


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