Britain woke up to a new Speaker on November 5, which marks the anniversary of the day in 1605 when Guy Fawkes and fellow members of the Gunpowder Plot were caught as they were about to blow up Parliament.
The choice has fallen on a safe pair of hands — Sir Lindsay Hoyle, 62, who takes over from John Bercow, having served as his deputy for nine years.
After emerging victorious after four rounds of voting in the Commons chamber on Monday night, he was “dragged” by fellow MPs, in keeping with parliamentary tradition, to the Speaker’s chair.
Since speakers have to be seen to be neutral he will have to resign as the Labour MP for Chorley in Lancashire, a seat he has held since 1997.
Bercow — well known for bellowing, “Order! Order!” — stepped down on October 31 after 10 years as speaker at the age of 56. He will be a tough act to follow.
Although he provoked intense hostility from hardline Tory Brexiteers by allowing motions tabled by remain supporting members, he is seen by many others as one of the greatest of the modern speakers who restored the power of those on the backbench.
Hoyle’s task as the nation’s 158th Speaker will be as difficult as Bercow’s if the December 12 general election returns a government with no clear majority which then has to pass contested Brexit legislation.
The signs so far are not propitious but Hoyle said: “I want to hopefully show that the experience I’ve shown previously will continue. As I’ve promised, I will be neutral, I will be transparent.”
There will be change but “good change”.
He said he wanted the Commons to be “once again a great respected House, not
just in here but across the world”.
He added: “It’s the envy, and we’ve got to make sure that tarnish is polished away, that the respect and tolerance that we expect from everyone who works in here will be shown and we’ll keep that in order.”
On a personal note, Hoyle paid tribute to his daughter Natalie Lewis-Hoyle, who was found dead in her bedroom just before Christmas 2017. She was 28.
He told the Commons: “There is one person who’s not here, my daughter Natalie. I wish she’d have been here, we all miss her as a family, no more so than her mum. I’ve got to say, she was everything to all of us, she will always be missed but she will always be in our thoughts.”
Boris said he was sure Hoyle would “stick up” for backbenchers and that “I believe you will also bring your signature kindness, kindness and reasonableness, to our proceedings, and thereby to help to bring us together as a parliament and a democracy.
Because no matter how fiercely we may disagree, we know that every member comes to this place with the best of motives, determined to solve, to serve, the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world.”
In the voting by MPs on Monday night, the winner required more than 50 per cent of votes cast. The Indian origin Tory Shailesh Vara disappointed British Asians by withdrawing from the race — “sadly, I have concluded I don’t have the numbers to win”.
Hoyle got 211 in the first round out of 562 MPs who voted; 244 out of 575 in the second; 267 out of 565 in the third; and 325 out of 540 in the final round, defeating fellow Labour MP Chris Bryant who got 213.
Former British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Tuesday he would not stand as a candidate in the upcoming national election.
After the Queen’s confidence in Hoyle’s “talents, diligence and sufficiency” to fulfil the Speaker’s duties was declared to the Lords, Hoyle said he submitted himself “in all humility and gratitude” to Her Majesty’s will.
In an interview with The Sunday Times last week, Hoyle revealed he has a pet parrot called Boris and a tortoise called Maggie.
Somewhat unusually, the speaker’s 89-year-old father, Doug Hoyle, a former Labour MP, was made a peer in 1997, as his son is likely to be when he steps down as speaker. This is an honour that many Tories are determined not to bestow on Bercow.
Doyle senior called his son Lindsay after Lindsay Hassett, a middle-order batsman and vice-captain of the Australian cricket team that was undefeated in all 34 matches it played in England in 1948.