Speaker warns against style police in the Commons

Tom Brake

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Some MPs have been displeased at Lib Dem Tom Brake’s decision not to wear a tie

The style police will not be patrolling the Commons debating chamber deciding who can ask questions, Speaker John Bercow has said after defending the new right of male MPs not to wear ties.

Last week, Mr Bercow upset some traditionalists when he announced that members should be dressed in “businesslike attire” but stressed that that didn’t have to include a tie.

The ruling came after a Conservative MP complained that Liberal Democrat Tom Brake had been allowed to speak in spite of not wearing a tie.

The ranks of the old guard unhappy at the change include the Transport Minister, John Hayes, who declared he wouldn’t take interventions from “sartorially challenged” MPs who weren’t wearing ties.

Raising a point of order on Thursday, Mr Brake told Mr Bercow there was a risk of a “slippery slope” which might lead the minister to “refuse to take interventions from members who were sartorially challenged in other ways, such as wearing a gaudy tie or a garish waistcoat”.

The Speaker said rulings on the dress code for MPs were a matter “exclusively” for him.

And he said Mr Hayes’ application to be a “style policeman” had been filed “in the appropriate place”.

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