Sir Lindsay Hoyle: Under-fire Speaker who sought to return ‘respect’ to Commons

Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s future as House of Commons Speaker is under threat amid criticism of his handling of a Gaza ceasefire debate that descended into chaos.

After he took the Speaker’s Chair in 2019 with a vow to restore calm after the acrimonious final years of his predecessor John Bercow, Sir Lindsay is facing the same kind of fury once levelled at the former speaker.

His decision to upend parliamentary convention by selecting a Labour amendment to an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, which meant the Scottish Nationalists never got a chance to vote on their opposition day, drew fierce criticism and calls for his resignation.

John Bercow
John Bercow stepped down as speaker in 2019 after a decade (Victoria Jones/PA)

He was lampooned with shouts of “bring back Bercow” – a nod to this predecessor, whose controversial tenure concluded with accusations of bias in the Brexit wars.

The Speaker issued multiple apologies for his “mistake” as he emphasised concerns over the security of MPs who have faced threats over their stance on the conflict.

The animal-loving proud Lancastrian found himself under pressure after a so-far well-regarded political career.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visit to UK
Sir Lindsay Hoyle was given the helmet of a Ukrainian pilot by President Volodymyr Zelensky when he welcomed him to Parliament (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

First elected MP for Chorley in 1997, he had been Mr Bercow’s most senior deputy since 2010, meaning he was no stranger to tackling boisterousness on the green benches.

After the terror attack on Parliament in 2017, and the killing of Police Constable Keith Palmer, MPs were privately full of praise for Sir Lindsay for the resonant chord he struck when he said “we will not give in to terrorism”.

He was knighted in 2018 for services to political and public life.

Born in Adlington in Lancashire, he guides proceedings with an easy-on-the-ear northern twang.

Proud of his heritage, he is known to serve Lancashire hotpot canapes when hosting events at the official Speaker’s House in Westminster.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s new kitten
Pet-loving Sir Lindsay Hoyle with his Maine coon kitten Attlee (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

He has a parrot named Boris, tortoise Maggie, Maine coon cat Attlee and a Patterdale terrier named after former Speaker Betty Boothroyd, whom he has described as a “great hero” of his.

He is the son of Labour MP Doug Hoyle, who was made a life peer after standing down in the same year his son was elected to the Commons.

Sir Lindsay was elected for Labour to Chorley Borough Council in 1980, where he became deputy leader and mayor during his near two-decade tenure.

Selected for the Chorley constituency, the former textiles printing businessman won back the seat for the party after it had been in Tory hands for 18 years.

There was heartbreak for the twice-married politician and his family when his daughter, Natalie Lewis-Hoyle, 28, was found dead in her bedroom just before Christmas 2017.

Sir Lindsay said he was “truly devastated” at her death.

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