A year of Tory turmoil, chaos and scandal turned Britain into an international laughing stock, Sir Lindsay Hoyle has opined.
Speaker of the House of Commons Hoyle said the country is still “struggling to recover” from the tumultuous year that saw scandal and ineptitude bring down two governments.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, Hoyle said he had “never seen anything like it before” with the “disaster” of three prime ministers in three months.
The “bizarre revolving door” of ministers and changing faces left him feeling like the only point of “continuity” in Westminster.
“We never knew who was going to be at the dispatch box,” Hoyle continued. “The only thing that was the continuity of parliament was myself.
“You know, we were running out of ministers, you couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen anything like it. As I say, when you talk to historians, you talk to senior politicians, nobody has ever seen anything like it before.”
When asked if the turmoil had made the country a laughing stock, Hoyle replied: “It did.”
It left people wondering “what was happening to our democracy?” Hoyle added. “I think we’re still struggling to recover.”
He also blamed the legacy of Brexit saying it had “divided families” and caused “real division” which parliament has been “trying to heal”.
The speaker said “what really matters” is treating “each other not just with tolerance but with respect,” and called on MPs to set an example.
“If you go in and bawl and shout at each other, don’t be shocked when the public might want to do the same to you,” said Hoyle.
As speaker of the Commons, Hoyle – elected Labour MP for Chorley in 1997 – is supposed to remain politically impartial. However, last week he voiced his opposition to Labour’s plan to scrap the House of Lords for an elected second chamber – an Assembly of Nations and Regions.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s World at One, Hoyle said the policy would undermine the authority of the Commons.
His predecessor as speaker, John Bercow is the only holder of that office not granted a peerage. Should Hoyle become a Lord, he will take after his father Doug Hoyle, a former Labour MP who was made a peer in 1997.
* MPs will return to Westminster after Christmas recess on January 9.