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Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker with a Gaza problem: Avuncular Lancastrian who named pets after politicians and spoke movingly about losing daughter is under threat over ceasefire vote weeks after pulling Commons invite to Palestinian ‘ambassador’


Lindsay Hoyle is the proud Lancastrian Speaker who finds himself suddenly at risk of being forced from office over a meaningless vote on the fighting in Gaza.

The Chorley MP is usually an avuncular figure in the chair as he oversees proceedings in the Commons – unless you break the rules, when the gentle smile turns quickly to fury. 

All the more reason then, for it to be slightly slapstick that the 66-year-old finds himself in danger of being ousted after less than five years in the job. 

Some 49 MPs have already signed a parliamentary motion voicing no-confidence in the presiding officer following extraordinary scenes in the chamber overnight.

The SNP and Tory MPs walked out after Sir Lindsay upended parliamentary convention by selecting Labour‘s bid to amend an SNP motion calling for an ‘immediate ceasefire’.

The step – taken in defiance of advice from the Commons Clerks – meant the Scots nationalists did not get a chance to vote on their own Opposition Day debate. But Sir Lindsay initially tried to leave one of his deputies to field anger in the House, before MPs finally dragged him in to face the music.

It is not the first controversy he has been involved in over Gaza.  

Some 49 MPs have already signed a parliamentary motion voicing no-confidence in the presiding officer following extraordinary scenes in the chamber overnight.

Some 49 MPs have already signed a parliamentary motion voicing no-confidence in the presiding officer following extraordinary scenes in the chamber overnight.

Last month he was forced to pull an invite to the Commons made to the Palestinian ambassador, Husam Zomlot.

A diary note circulated by the House suggested Sir Lindsay would display the Palestinian flag to mark the visit.

However, critics said the move was ‘baffling’ as the UK does not recognise the state of Palestine.

There is also only a Palestinian ‘mission’ in London rather than an embassy, which would be required to have a diplomat with the status of ambassador.

As a backlash erupted, the Speaker’s office released a statement saying there was no meeting scheduled.

‘A routine internal planning email was sent in error. We can confirm no meeting with the Palestinian Ambassador is scheduled to take place,’ it said.

A spokesman had another attempt at clarifying the situation later, blaming ‘diary pressures’ and saying Sir Lindsay still hoped to meet the envoy.

Sir Lindsay, was elected as the new Commons Speaker at the start of November 2019 after the widely disliked incumbent, John Bercow, stepped down after a decade in the role.

First elected MP for Chorley in 1997, he was Mr Bercow’s most senior deputy – known by the formal title ‘chairman of ways and means’ – since 2010, when post-expenses scandal reforms saw the role elected by MPs rather than appointed by the Leader of the Commons.

But the Bolton Wanderers FC fan is no pushover, having memorably bellowed at one miscreant: ‘The panto season is not for another nine months.’

He also scolded the SNP for singing Ode to Joy – the EU’s anthem – during the vote to trigger Article 50.

Not an emotional man by nature, he has described himself as a typical ‘tough Northerner’. But there have been occasions when he has been moved in the chair.

In his acceptance speech to the House of Commons after his election, he made a heartfelt tribute to his late daughter. Natalie Lewis-Hoyle was found hanged at her home in Heybridge, Essex in December 2017. 

An inquest heard Miss Lewis-Hoyle, a parish councillor, was struggling with a relationship that was ending and an assault had been reported to cops a month before her death – although no-one was arrested. 

Addressing the Commons, Sir Lindsay said: ‘There’s one difficult part I want to get over. There is one person who is not here. My daughter, Natalie. I wish she could have been here.’ 

Sir Lindsay was an immediate favourite for the role of Commons referee when Mr Bercow – with whom he had a strained relationship – announced he was stepping down after 10 years in the chair.

Natalie Lewis-Hoyle was found dead at her home in Heybridge, Essex in December 2017.

Natalie Lewis-Hoyle was found dead at her home in Heybridge, Essex in December 2017. 

In 2020 he also lifted the lid on his private life, revealing he has pets named for politicians. He and wife Catherine had a parrot called Boris (pictured) who 'talks a lot', 'posh cat' Patrick the Maine Coon (left), a tortoise called Maggie, a rottweiler named Gordon and Betty, a terrier.

In 2020 he also lifted the lid on his private life, revealing he has pets named for politicians. He and wife Catherine had a parrot called Boris (pictured) who ‘talks a lot’, ‘posh cat’ Patrick the Maine Coon (left), a tortoise called Maggie, a rottweiler named Gordon and Betty, a terrier.

More recently he has had a busy few years in the chair, including trying to keep the Commons sitting through Covid, and leading commemorations to the late Queen Elizabeth II and celebrations for the coronation of Charles III.

More recently he has had a busy few years in the chair, including trying to keep the Commons sitting through Covid, and leading commemorations to the late Queen Elizabeth II and celebrations for the coronation of Charles III.

Following the terror attack on Parliament in March 2017 and the killing of PC Keith Palmer, Sir Lindsay won plaudits by taking responsibility for ramping up security provisions.

He was in the Commons chair at the time of the atrocity in which four people were killed and presided over the lockdown in Parliament.

More recently he has had a busy few years in the chair, including trying to keep the Commons sitting through Covid, and leading commemorations to the late Queen Elizabeth II and celebrations for the coronation of Charles III.

And he has taken other steps to make the role more high-profile, giving more interviews than his predecessor and taking a leading role in areas including the safety of politicians and staff.

In 2020 he also lifted the lid on his private life, revealing he has pets named for politicians.

He and wife Catherine had a parrot called Boris who ‘talks a lot’, ‘posh cat’ Patrick the Maine Coon, a tortoise called Maggie, a rottweiler named Gordon and Betty, a terrier.

Born in Adlington in Lancashire, where he still lives, he was elected for Labour on Chorley Borough Council where he became deputy leader and mayor during his near two-decade tenure.

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

The son of MP Doug Hoyle, his cricket-addict father gave him his unconventional name after being particularly impressed with the showing of an Australian batsman during the Ashes tour of 1948.

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

Sir Lindsay said he was ‘truly devastated’ at the 28-year-old’s tragic passing.



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