UK Speaker John Bercow Scolds Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Calls Him ‘Discourteous’ for Playing on His Phone During Debate
U.K. Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, scolded Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, after he refused to put down his phone and pay attention to a meeting on May 2.
Thérèse Coffey, the Deputy Commons Leader, was also called out by Bercow.
It all began when Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander pointed out that Hunt was failing to participate in a debate because he was playing with his phone. Hunt grinned at Alexander after she called him out.
That’s when Bercow stepped in.
“To sit on the bench while these matters are being debated is one thing, particularly in the case of the Secretary of State, rather than to participate, but to sit there fiddling ostentatiously with an electronic device defies the established convention of the house that such devices should be used,” said Bercow.
He then described Hunt and Coffey’s actions as “discourteous” to the Shadow Secretary of State and to the House.
“I say to the Deputy Leader of the House, put the device away, and if you don’t want to put it away get out of the House! It is rude and dishonorable,” said Bercow.
Hunt has been under fire recently after thousands of junior doctors participated in the first all-out strike in the history of Britain’s National Health Service.
However, it’s not the first time Hunt has been called out in the House.
Labour MP Dennis Skinner, who recently called Prime Minister David Cameron “Dodgy Dave,” also criticized Hunt a few days ago for not being able to come to an agreement with junior doctors before they went on strike.
It’s up to us campaigners and the general public to wipe the smirk off Hints face. Join us today! https://t.co/4wqby0Nzvt
— Keep Our NHS Public (@keepnhspublic) April 26, 2016
“When the Secretary of State came into the chamber today, I don’t know whether he realizes it or not, but there is a smirk and arrogance about him that almost portrays the fact that he’s delighted in taking part in this activity,” said Skinner.
“He could start negotiations today. Wipe that smirk off his face. Get down to some serious negotiations,” added the Labour MP.
More than 125,000 appointments and operations were cancelled and needed to be rescheduled because of the strike, a result of the long-running dispute between the government and the British Medical Association.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.