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John Bercow: I was target of anti-Jewish Tories

Speaking out:
John Bercow PICTURE: PA

FORMER Commons speaker John Bercow has claimed he was a victim of anti-Semitic abuse by Tory MPs.

Mr Bercow — who left parliament in November after 22 years — said much of it came in the form of ‘subtle’ digs at his Jewish heritage.

‘I remember a member saying, “If I had my way, Berkoff, people like you wouldn’t be allowed in this place”, he told The Sunday Times in an interview for his memoirs, Unspeakable.

‘And I said, “Sorry, when you say people like me, do you mean lower-class or Jewish?” To which he replied, “Both”.’ He added: ‘In 22 years, I never experienced anti-Semitism from a member of the Labour Party. But I did experience anti-Semitism from members of the Conservative Party.’

Mr Bercow is facing accusations of bullying as he fights attempts to block a peerage after his decade as speaker.

Lt Gen David Leakey, parliament’s former black rod, said Mr Bercow’s bullying of colleagues was worse than anything he had witnessed in the Army.

But Mr Bercow accused Mr Leakey of wanting publicity. ‘He pops up in the media quite a lot as though we worked very closely together,’ he said. ‘We did not.’

Mr Bercow also accused Boris Johnson of cheating at tennis by not using ‘a legitimate ball’ — and still losing — when they played at Chequers.