John Bercow pulled no punches on Question Time with withering criticism of the Tories that left minister Robert Jenrick speechless.
The former speaker was savage as he laid into the ‘juvenile’ government’s response in Jersey and its ‘ineptitude’ in handling the Covid pandemic.
He repeatedly “schooled” housing minister Mr Jenrick during fierce exchanges on the BBC’s flagship Question Time programme.
In one feisty slap down during a discussion on Brexit Mr Jenrick said: “John obviously sat in the chair using every device and opportunity to make it [Brexit] difficult.”
Mr Bercow snapped back: “It’s called standing up for the rights of the democratic legislature, Robert. I’ll introduce you to the concept.
“A tutorial would be of great advantage to members of her majesty’s government.”
After a stunned silence host Fiona Bruce appeared to come to the rescue and said: “Some people are applauding it, some people are shaking their heads”, referring to the programme’s virtual audience.
Earlier in a discussion on the decision to send patrol boats to Jersey in a row over French fishermen he called it ‘an absurd act of gunboat diplomacy.’
He said: “It’s a bit of jingoistic sabre-rattling. And if you tell me or anybody does tonight that the despatch of those ships and the fact of election day are unrelated, I can say only that you will believe anything.
“Its juvenile, its down market, its not constructive, it doesn’t advance the cause of the arguments that need to be resolved.”
He blamed the problem on Brexit.
Later the pair sparred again during a discussion on the Covid pandemic.
Mr Bercow said: “It has been a catalogue of ineptitude on an industrial scale and therefore I can well understand Robert why you are fighting shy of a full public inquiry.
“When that takes place we will see an unsparing spotlight on just how much has been done so badly over such a short period to the huge detriment of the people of this country.”
Mr Jenrick also got in a few jabs of his own during the night and in discussing Brexit, before he was stunned to silence, he railed against Mr Bercow apparently frustrating Brexit.
He said: “People like John, like [Thangam Debbonaire MP] who did their best to make this issue such a divisive and bitter one for so long.
“In Thangam’s case voting against getting Brexit done dozens and dozens of times, I think 40 odd times.
“John obviously sat in the chair using every device and opportunity he could to make it a bit more difficult.”