Sir Lindsay Hoyle promises calm after being elected Speaker
The 62-year-old Labour MP for Chorley, the only candidate who refused to say how he voted in the 2016 EU referendum, became the 158th Speaker after beating six others in a secret ballot of members.
An avuncular Lancastrian, Hoyle has promised to bring calm to a chamber that has seen divisive and bad-tempered debates over the UK’s failed attempts to depart from the European Union.
Bercow, who stood down from the crucial position on Thursday, was accused by some Brexit supporters of favouring pro-EU politicians.
In a fourth and final round of votes, Hoyle beat his fellow Labour MP Chris Bryant by 325 to 213.
In keeping with tradition, fellow MPs Caroline Flint and Nigel Evans “dragged” Hoyle to the Speaker’s chair after the result was announced. Historically, the powerful job on some occasions led to his predecessors’ deaths on the orders of the monarch of the day.
In a speech following his victory, Hoyle paid tribute to his daughter, Natalie, who took her own life in 2017, saying she would “always be missed”.
Hoyle will take up the role on Tuesday for a single day before parliament dissolves for a general election on 12 December. The Speaker traditionally severs all ties with their political party and stands in their seat unopposed.
He is expected to face a demand on Tuesday morning for an urgent question about the government’s failure to publish a report by the intelligence committee on alleged Russian interference in the UK.
His reaction would be seen as a litmus test by his critics, one MP said. “How he reacts will be important. There are concerns that Lindsay won’t have the knowledge or the clout to take on the government. Let’s see how he handles this,” the MP said.
Hoyle will return to the chair after the election when he will be also asked to address issues around the bullying and sexual harassment of staff within parliament and threats to the safety of MPs.
Before the election, Hoyle was favourite to win, closely followed by his fellow deputy Speakers Eleanor Laing, a Tory, and Labour’s Rosie Winterton. Labour’s Harriet Harman, the current longest continuously serving female MP, was also expected to do well. The other candidates were Labour’s Meg Hillier and the Tory Sir Edward Leigh, the current and former chairs of the public accounts committee, and self-confessed “political nerd” Bryant.
In an election presided over by Ken Clarke, the father of the house, Hillier and Leigh were eliminated in the first round, followed by Winterton in the second round when Harman withdrew.
Laing, who was hoping to become the second female Speaker after Betty Boothroyd, came last in the third ballot, leaving the field open to Hoyle and Bryant.
Hoyle, a twice-married former businessman whose father is the peer and former Labour MP Doug Hoyle, has promised to continue to support backbench causes, which Bercow was often praised for.
However, he has promised to do so with “humour and quiet words” instead of adopting his predecessor’s abrasive tone towards “chuntering” MPs and ministers.
Some MPs fear Hoyle might not give ministers and the government as tough a time as Bercow. The former Speaker often allowed urgent questions which forced ministers to appear at short notice before MPs.
In an acknowledgement that Bercow’s final years had become rancorous, all seven candidates made speeches calling for greater respect and calm within the Commons.
Winterton said if she got the job she would “douse the flames, not pour petrol on them”. Bryant said he would be “a Speaker who is an umpire, not a player.”
The eighth and ninth contenders, the Conservative MPs Shailesh Vara and Henry Bellingham, stood down before the ballot after failing to gain enough supporters to win.
Bercow departed the Speaker’s chair on 31 October. On Monday, he officially stepped down as an MP and was appointed steward and bailiff of the manor of Northstead. The archaic title is applied when an MP needs to disqualify themselves from the Commons, as parliamentarians are not technically able to resign.
Bercow was accusing of scuppering Theresa May’s Brexit deal by stopping attempts to hold a third meaningful vote as Tories insisted she had gained enough support.
He repeatedly clashed with Boris Johnson and described the decision to suspend parliament in early September – seen as a move to prevent MPs from questioning the prime minister’s strategy to take the country out of the European Union – as a “constitutional outrage”.
He also denied Johnson a second vote in parliament on the deal he struck with Brussels earlier this month, arguing it would be “repetitive and disorderly”.