Parliament Speaker Hoyle re-elected with vow to be impartial and fair

LONDON (Reuters) - British lawmakers re-elected Labour’s Lindsay Hoyle as Speaker on Tuesday, as he vowed to be impartial and fair in a moderating role which saw his predecessor John Bercow accused of breaking convention to help opponents of Brexit.

With a lack of majority government since 2017, rivals had more power to challenge the ruling Conservatives’ plans and the Speaker took an increasingly key role in the process of debating Brexit and passing laws needed to implement, or delay, it.

Bercow, who stood down in October after 10 years, was accused by some of breaking long-accepted norms and favouring those who wanted to stop the government’s exit plans.

But last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won a large majority of 80 in the House of Commons, giving him the freedom to push his agenda through parliament much more easily and diminishing the Speaker’s influence over it.

Hoyle, 62, who was first elected in November just before parliament was dissolved for the five-week general election campaign, was re-elected uncontested. He had been deputy speaker since 2010.

“A speaker has to be trusted,” Hoyle said, before two lawmakers carried out the parliamentary tradition of dragging him to the Speaker’s chair. “I have a proven track record of being impartial, independent and fair.”

The Speaker is the arbiter of procedural disputes in the Commons, parliament’s lower chamber, and determines which potential challenges to the government’s plans are allowed.

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A Member of Parliament for the seat of Chorley in his native Lancashire, northern England, since 1997, Hoyle ran his own textile printing business before entering parliament. His father, Doug, was also a Labour member of parliament.

Fellow Labour lawmaker Lisa Nandy, tipped as a possible successor to leader Jeremy Corbyn, praised Hoyle, saying voters who view parliament “as a bastion of privilege where ordinary people like them cannot wield power” saw Hoyle as one of them.

“We have done this place a service by electing someone to be our face and our voice, who people many miles distant from here, see as one of their own,” she said.

Hoyle has several pets named after famous British politicians, including a parrot called Boris, which he says he has taught to say the Speaker’s common refrain of “Order, order”.

Congratulating Hoyle, Johnson lead a chant of his ubiquitous election slogan “Get Brexit done”, saying: “I think even your parrot, Mr Speaker, would have been able to cite that one by now.”

Additional reporting by Kate Holton and William James; editing by Stephen Addison