UK Parliament elects new Speaker for Brexit hot seat - GulfToday

UK Parliament elects new Speaker for Brexit hot seat


Lindsay Hoyle listens as Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the House of Commons in London. AFP

Labour Party’s Lindsay Hoyle has been elected as Speaker on Monday by the British lawmakers. He is expected to lead the next Parliamentary instalment of the protracted struggle over Brexit.

Since Britain declared its intention to leave the European Union in the last three years, the Speaker plays an important role in the process of lawmakers debating the pros and cons of Brexit and passing laws necessary for its implementation.

The Speaker is the arbiter of procedural disputes in the House of Commons, Parliament's lower chamber, and has the power to decide which challenges to the Conservative government's plans are allowed to proceed.

Former Speaker John Bercow, who stood down last week after 10 years, was accused of breaking convention and favouring those who wanted to stop the government's exit plans. But he was feted by others who saw him as empowering them to challenge and scrutinise the executive.

"I will be neutral, I will be transparent," 62-year-old Hoyle said after his colleagues carried out the Parliamentary tradition of dragging him to the speaker's chair.

Parliament had to make sure the "tarnish is polished away", he said, adding: "This House will change but it will change for the better."

Top-tier of the challenges is Brexit, however, the Speaker also needs to deal with criticism that the setup of the Parliament gives room for bullying and harassment.

"I believe you will also bring your signature kindness and reasonableness to our proceedings and thereby help to bring us together as a Parliament and a democracy," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said after Hoyle's election.

Hoyle won 325 votes to 213 votes against fellow Labour lawmaker Chris Bryant in a four rounds secret ballot process. He has been deputy speaker since 2010.

The ruling Conservative Party has not had majority in the Parliament since 2017. That has given the rival party more opportunity to have a big say in the process and challenge the government and the Speaker.

But with a national election coming on Dec. 12, the new Speaker's first job will depend on what government the public elect.

"Some of the decisions that John Bercow has made in the chair have been quite unprecedented. They've been very unexpected. Some MPs (Members of Parliament) have loved them. Some MPs have loathed them," said Alice Lilly, senior researcher at the Institute for Government think tank.

"We'll have to wait and see whether the new Speaker faces similar conditions with Brexit and minority government. If we have a majority government, it might be that actually Commons procedure becomes a little bit less crucial."

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