Long-serving Labour Party lawmaker Lindsay Hoyle was elected speaker of Britain’s House of Commons on Monday, taking up the job with a clear message: I’m not John Bercow.
Hoyle was chosen by lawmakers from among seven candidates to replace the influential but contentious Bercow. Bercow retired last week after a decade as speaker that saw him become a central player in Britain’s Brexit drama.
Hoyle took 325 of the 540 votes in a runoff with Labour colleague Chris Bryant after the seven-member field was winnowed down in three previous voting rounds.
After his election, Hoyle was dragged to the speaker’s chair by colleagues with a show of reluctance — a tradition dating back to the days when speakers could be sentenced to death if they displeased the monarch.
He vowed to bring a change of tone and temperament to a political system that has been strained by Brexit; to restore Parliament’s battered reputation and to be “neutral” and “transparent.”
Hoyle remarked that lawmakers have “got to make sure that tarnish is polished away.”
He said the House of Commons will change, “but it will change for the better.”
Hoyle, 62, was elected to Parliament in 1997, has served as one of the three deputy speakers since 2010 and is widely popular and respected by colleagues. Like Bercow, he will run the daily business of the Commons.
With his northern English accent and blunt manner, Hoyle has a contrasting style to the verbose Bercow. And he is likely to adopt a more cautious approach than that taken by Bercow, who prided himself on making the government answer to Parliament and became a thorn in the side of the Conservative administration.
The speaker is supposed to be an impartial arbiter of Parliament’s rules, but critics accused Bercow of favoring anti-Brexit politicians at the expense of those supporting Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Johnson, the prime minister, told Hoyle in the House of Commons that he was sure the new speaker would bring his “signature kindness and reasonableness to our proceedings, and thereby … help to bring us together as a Parliament and a democracy.”
Four of the speaker candidates were women — Eleanor Laing, Rosie Winterton, Harriet Harman and Meg Hillier — but the winner was a man, just like all but one of his 157 predecessors.
Betty Boothroyd, who served from 1992 to 2000, is the only female speaker in U.K. House of Commons history.
The selection of a new speaker came a day before Parliament was to be dissolved for a Dec. 12 national election in which all 650 seats in the House of Commons are up for grabs. Johnson’s
Conservatives are hoping to win a majority that could unblock Britain’s political deadlock and let Johnson fulfill his pledge to take Britain out of the EU.