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‘Totally unacceptable’: Sir Lindsay Hoyle vents anger over move to hold Covid road map press conference before MPs are told

·2-min read
Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle (AFP via Getty Images)
Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle (AFP via Getty Images)

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has slammed the Government over its "totally unacceptable" handling of announcing changes to the Covid road map.

Sir Lindsay accused Downing Street of "running roughshod" over MPs by not informing them first of any changes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to hold a press conference at 6pm on Monday, where he is expected to announce a four-week delay to the final lifting of coronavirus restrictions in England.

Mr Johnson is expected to announce that the road map easing earmarked for June 21 will be delayed for four weeks to July 19.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will then make a statement to MPs at around 8.30pm.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday afternoon, Sir Lindsay 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.

Watch: Speaker rebukes government for failure to address MPs before lockdown announcement

"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."

He was responding 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 to MPs: "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 went on: "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."

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

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