Labour MP Chris Bryant believes everyone in parliament needs a “cwtch” – or hug – after being left “battered and bruised” during the battles over Brexit.
The Rhondda MP is looking to become the next Speaker of the House of Commons once John Bercow steps down from the role.
The 57-year-old vowed not “belittle or diminish or lecture MPs” should he be elected to the Speaker’s chair, as he predicted MPs would choose from among their number someone they saw as “actually being quite pleasant”.
On taking on the Speakership, Mr Bercow said his intention was to quit after nine years – a date which passed in June last year, to prompt continued speculation over how long he will remain in the post.
It is understood a number of MPs have expressed their concern to Mr Bercow about any change of Speaker while the Brexit process remains unresolved, with the UK’s departure from the EU having now been delayed for a second time until 31 October.
A parliamentary source told The Times that Mr Bercow wants to “keep parliament as it is” while MPs continue to oppose the prime minister’s EU withdrawal agreement.
Mr Bryant is likely to face competition from Mr Bercow’s current deputies Eleanor Laing and Sir Lindsay Hoyle for the role, while former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman has said she will “consider” standing for election as the next Speaker.
In an early pitch for the job, Mr Bryant told parliament’s The House magazine: “The things you might say to another person, at a dinner party or in the bar or in casual conversation in the tea room, when they’re said from the chair to an MP, it’s just devastating.
“It’s like the headteacher telling you off in front of the whole class and it’s broadcast to the nation and your family is sitting there as well.
“We’re all battered and bruised enough in this parliament. So, the first thing for me is I will do everything in my power not to belittle or diminish or lecture MPs from the Chair, but, insofar as it is possible, to respect every single person.”
He added: “Most MPs would probably make their judgement on the basis of ‘who can I see in the chair maintaining order, knowing the rules and knowing the history, knowing the precedent, being authoritative enough, but actually being quite pleasant?’.”
Mr Bryant revealed how he disagreed with a controversial recent ruling over Brexit by Mr Bercow, which favoured pro-Remain MPs hoping to force the government’s hand.
Mr Bercow has been reportedly forced to defend his impartiality as Speaker since disclosing how he voted to remain in the EU.
The “theatre” of MPs walking through voting lobbies – rather than casting their votes electronically – is appreciated by Mr Bryant, although he suggested there should be thought given to speeding up the voting process.
Should he be elected to the Speakership, Mr Bryant would also seek to establish an event for those staff who run parliament.
He said: “This is a community of people. There’s a Welsh word, cwtch, which means hug. I just feel a bit as if – this is going to sound terrible pious – I just feel like it all needs a bit of a cwtch at the moment.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Bercow said: “The Speaker was elected by the House in 2017 for the course of the parliament.
“In the event he has anything to say on his future plans, he will make an announcement to the House first.”