Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s Brexit mystery as Speaker has never revealed how he voted

Lindsay Hoyle says he 'won't be undermined' by Johnson

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Sir Lindsay will return to the Speaker’s chair for Prime Minister’s Questions today, as Boris Johnson faces Sir Keir Starmer and the Commons. It comes after Mr Johnson faced an unprecedented Tory rebellion over new coronavirus passport restrictions. The new restrictions, announced a week ago, were subject to a series of Commons votes yesterday evening, with 98 Tory backbenchers voting against bringing in NHS covid passes. 

While the vote passed comfortably, along with separate votes on new face mask rules and self-isolation guidelines, Mr Johnson had to rely on the support of Labour.

The rebels included a number of former Cabinet ministers, such as David Davis, Damian Green and Chris Grayling. 

Mr Johnson required an eleventh-hour charm offensive to push the vote through, telling the Tory 1922 Committee that the Omicron variant had forced the Government’s hand.

He said: “Lots and lots of people are going to get this, and you only need a small percentage of them to go to hospital before this becomes a problem.”

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Sir Lindsay, who will be at the centre of proceedings, has been Speaker of the House since 2019 and in that time led Parliament through a number of fearsome votes on Brexit.

However, even before his spell as Speaker, the politician never publicly declared his views on Britain leaving the EU. 

By convention, both Speakers and Deputy Speakers refrain from voting on any motion in the Commons.

In turn, Sir Lindsay, who was elevated Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons in 2010, has never had to vote on Brexit.

When he became Speaker Mr Hoyle had to formally resign from the Labour Party to ensure impartiality as he presided over Parliament. 

He has continued to serve as MP for his constituency, Chorley, where he has stood since 1997.

Despite his neutrality and the ambiguity that surrounds Mr Hoyle’s Brexit vote, the speaker has clashed with the Prime Minister on a number of occasions. 

This week Mr Johnson broke parliamentary etiquette by publicly announcing changes to Government policy on coronavirus before informing the Commons.

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Though the Speaker was informed in advance that Mr Johnson would make a televised address, he was “surprised” that the Prime Minister did not make a subsequent Parliament address.

He said: “Can I say, last night when the Secretary of State called me to say that the Prime Minister felt the need to make the announcement to the country yesterday, I am surprised that he did not therefore think it appropriate to come to this House to answer questions to announce it today. 

“I have got to say I have respect for the Secretary of State for Health but I am really, really disappointed that once again this House has become second runner-up to TV news.

“Not acceptable. 

“If this is a game we are going to play, we are going to have to play hardball.”

His predecessor as Speaker of the House was John Bercow, who was frequently accused of blocking Parliament and being a ‘Remainer enabler’ during his ten year spell in the chair. 

Mr Bercow, denied Breixt bias but frequently clashed with the Government and strongly opposed Mr Johnson’s attempts to suspend Parliament for five weeks to meet the Halloween Brexit deadline. 

Since leaving his position as Speaker he has been deeply critical of the Government’s handling of the pandemic, while this year he joined the Labour party, having previously had Conservative affiliations that dated back to the Eighties. 

Upon joining Labour, Mr Bercow accused Mr Johnson’s Tory party of being “reactionary, populist, nationalistic and sometimes even xenophobic.”

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