A furious Hoyle accuses government of misleading the House

Sir Lindsay Hoyle in the House of Commons

Sir Lindsay Hoyle in the House of Commons - Credit: Jessica Taylor

Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the house, has rebuked Boris Johnson’s decision to hold a televised news conference about changes to the Covid roadmap timetable without informing MPs in the House of Commons first. Hoyle angrily called the actions “totally unacceptable” and accused the government of "running roughshod" over MPs.

The prime minister held a press conference at 6pm on Monday, where he announced a four week delay to the total easing of restrictions, now to be held on 19 July. Matt Hancock, health secretary, then proceeded to make a statement to MPs later at 8:30pm. 

It was this order of events that frustrated the speaker of the house. Addressing MPs, he said: "Can I just say, we weren't going to get a statement until I got involved with Downing Street. The fact is this has been forced to actually get a statement today, it was going to be left to tomorrow, which would have been totally unacceptable.”

He continued: “The fact is - I understand the prime minister at the moment is on Nato, there is a big conference going on, he isn't here - that's why I insisted that somebody came to make this statement. The timing of it is 8.30pm. I thought that was better than waiting for the prime minister to make a statement tomorrow.

"This House needs to know, it needs to know first. I find it totally unacceptable that once again, once again, that we see Downing Street running roughshod over members of parliament. We're not accepting it and I'm at the stage where I'm beginning to look for other avenues if they're not going to treat this House seriously. 

“The prime minister should be here. I am sorry if his dinner would have been affected because I was told he was in Brussels. The nearest Brussels tonight were the sprouts on his dinner being served.”

Hoyle was responding to two points of order from two senior Conservative MPs, Peter Bone and Edward Leigh who also expressed their unhappiness around the handling of the announcement. 

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Bone, MP for Wellingborough, said that he could “think of no more important policy announcement than changes to regulations that restrict the freedom of the British people”, and he therefore found it “concerning” that the press and public were being informed before the house. He added that the action should be seen as “a contempt of parliament”.

Hoyle matched this sentiment saying that he did not “find it acceptable at all. Members of this house are elected to come here to serve their constituents, not to serve them via Sky or BBC,” and he explained he would be taking the matter up with the prime minister. 

These remarks were followed by Iain Duncan Smith, who enquired if it would be possible for Johnson to address parliament at 6pm, and therefore before he went live to the nation. 

“If somebody’s willing to do that from Downing Street, I will always ensure that this house will hear it,” responded Hoyle. 

He continued: “The fact is I am being misled, the house is being misled and it is not acceptable”. 

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