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Who is Sir Lindsay Hoyle? Speaker apologises after Commons Gaza debate turns into chaos

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has apologised after the House of Commons descended into chaos over a controversial vote about a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Speaker, who has held the role since 2019, is said to be in a “difficult position” after the events on Wednesday.

The MP for Chorley is stricly neutral on all matters but was accused of Partisanship after he took the unprecedented step of allowing a vote on Labour’s ceasefire motion.

The decision was seen to let Sir Keir Starmer off the hook, with the Labour leader facing a potential rebellion from his own party over the Tory motion.

Eventually, the Conservatives did not participate and left Labour to vote through their own proposal unopposed among a chorus of jeers and boos.

Mr Hoyle said: “It is clear that today did not show the house at its best. I will reflect on my part in that of course.”

He added: “I have tried to do what I thought was the right thing for all sides of this House. It is regrettable, and I apologise, that the decision didn’t end up in the place that I wished.”

The apology, like the vote decision, was unprecedented and led to calls for him to resign. The Speaker is also allowed an easy passage to becoming an MP with no major parties standing against him - but there have been rumours that the Tories may field a candidate in his Chorely constituency.

Health minister Maria Caulfield said: “I would struggle now to support him but let’s see what happens in the next 24/48 hours.

“He knows he did wrong and he has apologised. Let’s see what he proposes to fix the situation.”

Who is Sir Lindsay Hoyle?

Lindsay Hoyle was elected as Commons Speaker in 2019
Lindsay Hoyle was elected as Commons Speaker in 2019

The Northerner has been MP for Chorley since 1997 and took over from John Bercow as speaker in 2019 after several rounds of voting. Since 2010, reforms have meant the role is now elected by MPs rather than appointed by the Leader of the Commons.

The Bolton Wanderers FC fan saw his public profile rise after his handling of a spiky Budget speech in 2013.

Rebuking one unruly parliamentarian, he bellowed: "The panto season is not for another nine months."

Lindsay Hoyle calls for order in March 2013
Lindsay Hoyle calls for order in March 2013

He also scolded the SNP for singing Ode To Joy, the European Union's anthem, during the vote to trigger Article 50.

Sir Lindsay, 66, became the favourite for the role of Commons referee when Mr Bercow announced he was stepping down after 10 years in the chair.

Following the terror attack on Parliament in March 2017, and the killing of PC Keith Palmer, MPs were privately full of praise for Sir Lindsay - at the time still nine months away from being included in the 2018 Honours List for services to political and public life - for the resonant chord he struck.

"We're in a village and our village policeman has been murdered and all of our thoughts are with the family and the other innocent victims," he told BBC News on his way in to work the next day.

"But of course the House must continue - we will not give in to terrorism and today we'll continue."

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle

He was in the Commons chair at the time of the atrocity, and presided over the lockdown in Parliament.

Born in Adlington in Lancashire, where he still lives, he was elected for Labour to Chorley Borough Council, where he became deputy leader and mayor during his near two-decade tenure.

Selected for the Chorley constituency, he won back the seat for the party after it had been in Tory hands for 18 years.

Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle in 1997
Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle in 1997

A former member of the trade committee and the European scrutiny committee, he clashed with three-time general election winner Tony Blair over issues such as Gibraltar and tuition fees, and sought a career on the backbenches in the aftermath.

The son of MP Doug Hoyle, his cricket-addict father gave him his unconventional name after being particularly impressed with the showing of an Australian batsman during the Ashes tour of 1948.

The now 94-year-old Lord Hoyle - made a life peer after standing down in the same year his son was elected to the Commons - was so taken by Lindsay Hassett, a middle-order batsman and vice-captain of an Aussie team that was undefeated in all 34 matches it played in England that summer, that he bestowed on his offspring the same name.

There was heartbreak for the twice-married politician and his family when his daughter, Natalie Lewis-Hoyle, 28, was found dead in her bedroom just before Christmas 2017.

Sir Lindsay said he was "truly devastated" at her death.

As he took the position of Speaker on Monday, Sir Lindsay paid tribute to his late daughter.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been elected the new Commons Speaker
Sir Lindsay Hoyle has been elected the new Commons Speaker

In an heartfelt tribute, he said: “There is one person who’s not here, my daughter Natalie. I wish she’d have been here, we all miss her as a family, no more so than her mum.

“I’ve got to say, she was everything to all of us, she will always be missed but she will always be in our thoughts.”

The former textiles printing businessman paid tribute on Monday to a "great hero" of his, former speaker Betty Boothroyd, who watched from the side gallery.

During the campaign to be the 158th Speaker, Sir Lindsay said Parliament had a drinks and drugs problem, and said MPs were telling him they can no longer stand for re-election as their family has to come first.

In an interview with The Sunday Times last week, he revealed he has a pet parrot called Boris and a tortoise called Maggie.