Labour MP Jess Phillips spoke to BBC News reporters Dan Walker and Louise Minchin about shouting in parliament, telling the presenters she believes she could “behave myself better” but parliament is “theatre” and she’ll continue to heckle and shout like her peers.
After chatting about contributors for her book Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S, Dan veered the conversation to the tone and use of language in parliament surrounding Brexit talks.
Dan began: “I just want to go back to something else that happened in parliament recently because a lot of talk last week about some of the language used, we’ve already talked about.
“But the noise and the shouting and the screaming. I’m sure you saw the woman in the Equalities Committee Chair Maria Miller saying you were actually the one making the loudest noise.”
“I do shout in Parliament, I’m not going to pretend I don’t heckle just like everybody else. I suppose..,” Jess responded.
“Things aren’t going to change quickly but do you think it’s going to continue in that vein?”
“I hope it won’t,” Jess commented. “I think that the following day, when I asked an urgent question specifically about the tone and use of language of the Prime Minister, it was much calmer and I think people realise there is a need for calm.
“But this debate will be had in 10 years time, 20 years time, do politicians behave badly?
“It has always been thus, I mean it’s a bit like a public school isn’t it? The whole place the whole demeanour, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to consensus and conversation.
“But the reality is, in all the rooms in parliament, that is what goes on.”
Louise chipped in to ask: “So you admit you were loud? So quietness can’t change it? In your book you talk about how to make change so how are you going to help change?”
“I mean for me as an individual to change centuries of tradition in parliament will be difficult,” Jess remarked. “But I will definitely temper my behaviour. There’a absolutely no two ways about it and I can admit it, I just wish Boris Johnson would.”
BBC Breakfast airs weekdays on BBC One at 6am.