Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has scolded Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch over her handling of changes to post-Brexit plans to scrap EU laws.
Sir Lindsay snapped “who do you think you’re speaking to?” after Ms Badenoch said she was sorry the sequencing of the announcement was “not to your satisfaction”.
The Speaker was initially left unhappy after the change to Government policy was not announced via an oral statement to the House by a minister, but instead appeared in a newspaper and MPs were updated by a written statement.
Sir Lindsay has had several run-ins with ministers since becoming Speaker over his desire to guarantee MPs are told first of major announcements.
Sir Lindsay, who granted an urgent question (UQ) on the changes, said: “Given the importance of this announcement, on such matters full engagement with Parliament and its committees is essential… I will remind Government, we are elected to hear it first, not to read it in the Telegraph and certainly not a WMS (written ministerial statement) is satisfactory on such an important matter.”
Ms Badenoch replied: “I’m very sorry that the sequencing that we chose was not to your satisfaction.”
Sir Lindsay countered: “That is totally not acceptable.”
Following an off-microphone remark from Ms Badenoch in which she appeared to be saying she should have said “not the right procedure”, Sir Lindsay said: “Who do you think you’re speaking to, Secretary of State? I think we need to understand each other.
“Take it with good grace and accept it, that members should hear it first, not a WMS or what you decide.
“These members have been elected by their constituents and they have the right to hear it first and it is time this Government recognised we’re all elected, we’re all Members of Parliament and used the correct manners.”
Ms Badenoch responded: “I apologise, what I was trying to say was that I’m very sorry that I did not meet the standards which you expect of secretaries of state, forgive my language.”
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) later said: “Can I say to (Ms Badenoch) she has shown a tin ear if she thought for one moment that these changes wouldn’t arouse interest in the House of Commons and that it needed a UQ to bring her here this morning.”
She added: “Can she explain in her wonderfully patronising manner, which she’s showed many times this morning, to this silly MP what will prevent her now from making a major U-turn on workers’ rights, including holiday and maternity pay?”
Ms Badenoch replied: “The honourable lady calls herself a silly MP, it’s not my place to disagree with that.”
On holiday pay, the minister said: “What we’re doing is making the bureaucracy easier, we’re not taking any workers’ rights.”
SNP MP Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) said: “She’s doing herself no favours at all this morning with her patronising and arrogant manner, not just to members of the opposition but also her honourable friends.”
SNP MP Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) raised concerns about the “anti-democratic” legislation allowing UK ministers to act without consent or scrutiny from the Scottish Parliament in areas devolved to Scottish ministers.
Ms Badenoch replied: “I’m trying really hard not to laugh at what the honourable lady has said.
“She is in a party who can’t even decide who paid for a caravan and are falling into complete shambles, how are they in any way going to be able to do the sort of technical work we’re doing?”