Image Credit: BBC
After four rounds of voting, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been elected as the new Speaker of the House of Commons. The process began with seven candidates, including Conservative MP for Epping Forest, Dame Eleanor Laing, deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman and MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant. In the final round, the race was narrowed down between Hoyle and Bryant. He then received a clear victory after gaining 325 votes to Bryant’s 213. In keeping with tradition, upon hearing the result he was dragged by two MPs to the Speaker’s chair. Here, he paid an emotive tribute to his daughter, Natalie, who was killed in 2017. He addressed the Commons in a heartfelt manner explaining she was “everything” to him and his family. He continued on to pledge his commitment to transparency and promised to remain neutral.
The role of Speaker is fairly clear-cut, yet crucial. Their presence maintains order in the Commons during debates, as they call on MPs to speak. Speakers must also be politically impartial in order to conduct the role, meaning that they must resign membership from their political party once elected. A task that Hoyle must now complete.
Mark D’Arcy, Parliamentary Correspondent for the BBC, explains how Hoyle is a “man steeped in politics”. Son to Baron Hoyle, Ex MP and now Labour life peer, Hoyle grew up in a highly political family. Using his successful background as the Labour Chorley Borough Councillor for the Adlington Ward, Hoyle then began his career in Westminster after winning the seat of Chorley in the 1997 election. In a historically big night for the Labour party, he added to the success stories by becoming the first Labour MP to win the constituency in eighteen years. He was later elected to the position of Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons in 2010, in the first time the role was determined by a ballot from MPs, and not nomination by Leader of the House.
The Prime Minister congratulated the new Speaker upon hearing the result, highlighting his qualities as a compassionate politician and how he did well to win the position against such prestigious competition. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn offered some advice to Hoyle, warning that he would need “eyes in the back of his head” to maintain order in parliament. Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, welcomed his election, expressing the hope that Hoyle would continue to endeavour to modernise proceedings.
The question then arises what a parliament with Hoyle as Speaker will look like? Taking the traditional route to the role, MPs have already been offered the chance to observe Hoyle’s political style in proceedings. In contrast to Bercow, his rhetoric and retorts in parliament have often been mild. D’Arcy has further commented on how his linguistic style has been more similar to a “priest than a parliamentarian”. Hoyle may also have to decide how to respond to his predecessor’s innovations during his time as Speaker. Changes such as the 2013 decision to allow extra amendments to the address of thanks for the Queens Speech and amendments to the Business of the House Motions. While these sound like technicalities, the implications they have on politics could be extensive.
Naturally, much like Bercow, Hoyle will play a central role in Brexit proceedings after the general election. In an interview during Nick Robinson’s podcast, Politically thinking, while he did not directly criticise his predecessor, he did make it clear that he would not have permitted business amendments used to block the no deal option.
With a Christmas election looming, Parliament may receive a reshuffle before entering the next decade. A change that appears to have already begun with the election of Hoyle as Bercow’s successor.