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This Heckling Tory Minister Was Just Ordered To "Be Quiet And Listen"

"It's not about you, it's about the issue," Speaker John Bercow told Anna Soubry.

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A Tory business minister was ordered to "be quiet and listen" after heckling her Labour counterpart from the front bench.

Anna Soubry was told off by Commons Speaker John Bercow during a fractious debate on the closure of a government office in Sheffield that Labour believes undermines the chancellor's "Northern powerhouse" rhetoric.

Soubry continually heckled shadow business minister Gordon Marsden as he warned of civil servant job losses. It meant Marsden was put off his stride several times and he eventually urged her: "Stop chuntering from a sedentary position."

That triggered a visibly angry Bercow to call for order. He told Soubry: "This speech will be heard. Order! Order. Minister, you've had your say, you will have further says.

"There's something about a basic dignity, just sit and listen. It's not about you, it's about the issue. And it's not about the honourable gentleman either, it's about the issue.

"Be quiet and listen, that's the end of it. It's not a request, it's an instruction."

Later Bercow had another pop at Soubry, telling her: "I am the arbiter of good order. I handle those matters, and I certainly do not require any advice from a junior minister."

That came after Soubry claimed that a Labour MP had made a statement, rather than a question, and that it "was not accurate and it was rubbish".

Soubry was roundly attacked by the Labour benches for failing to show compassion to the 240 staff facing job losses at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills office in Sheffield, which will close by 2018. Labour's Conor McGinn said the workers had "not heard a shred of sympathy or regret from the minister".

Labour MP Steve Reed said: "May I invite you to do what you have so spectacularly failed to do so far this morning and apologise to the people who are at risk of losing their jobs, and just show a little human compassion for people who this morning are fearful for their livelihoods, for themselves and their families?"

Soubry replied: "I am sure Hansard will record that as I said to the honourable member for Sheffield Heeley [Louise Haigh], nobody enjoys it when people lose their jobs and nobody takes any pleasure in it.

"We will do everything we can to support those people who will have to be made redundant if we reach that stage.

"It is rich coming from Labour, which brought this country almost to the level of bankruptcy, which resulted in millions of people losing their jobs. I am delighted that we have now got 2 million more people in work, thanks to our long-term economic plan."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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