Sir Lindsay Hoyle blasts Boris Johnson over Covid rules announcement
Sir Lindsay Hoyle has blasted Boris Johnson for setting out his lockdown decision at a press conference instead of to MPs as he accused the PM of ‘running roughshod’ over Parliament.
The Commons Speaker said Number 10’s treatment of Parliament has been ‘totally unacceptable’ as he again stressed that announcements should first be made at the despatch box.
Sir Lindsay, who has raised similar concerns in the past, said he intends to demand a face-to-face meeting with the premier to tell him that the Commons ‘matters’ and must be taken ‘seriously’.
Mr Johnson used a Downing Street press conference this evening to announce a four week delay to his lockdown exit roadmap.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock was then scheduled to make a statement to MPs at around 8.30pm.
MPs are adamant that major announcements should be made to them first so that they can grill the Government.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle has blasted Boris Johnson for setting out his lockdown decision at a press conference instead of to MPs as he accused the PM of ‘running roughshod’ over Parliament
The Commons Speaker said Number 10’s treatment of Parliament has been ‘totally unacceptable’ as he again stressed that announcements should first be made at the despatch box. Mr Johnson is pictured in Brussels at a NATO summit this morning
Speaking in the Commons this afternoon Sir Lindsay said the Government had no intention of addressing MPs on the subject until tomorrow until he intervened.
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.
‘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.
‘But I will say I think it’s time for me to have a meeting with the Prime Minister to actually put on the record here now but with him that this House matters.’
Sir Lindsay made the comments in response to points of order from two senior Conservative MPs, Peter Bone and Sir Edward Leigh, who both voiced their unhappiness with the handling of the announcement.
Mr Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough, said: ‘It’s a long-standing principle of this House that major changes to Government policy are announced to Parliament first.
‘I can think of no more important policy announcement than changes to regulations that restrict the freedom of the British people.’
He added: ‘What makes this matter more concerning is that about 30 minutes ago the media were given an embargoed copy of the statement.
‘So the media have the statement in advance, there will be a public press conference at 6pm and the last people to know about the changes to the Covid regulations will be members of Parliament.
‘This is clearly very disrespectful to Parliament and probably a contempt of Parliament.’