Speaker and PM strike compromise on announcements to cool Commons anger

The Houses of Parliament (PA Archive)
17:05pm, Tue 15 Jun 2021
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Boris Johnson and the Commons Speaker have reached a compromise after the Prime Minister received stinging criticism over his announcement on the delay to ending coronavirus restrictions.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s office said the pair agreed that future announcements would be made simultaneously following anger that the Government has ignored the long-standing expectation that ministers will detail major developments to Parliament first.

The Speaker earlier accused Downing Street of “running roughshod” over MPs by opting to release details of the unlocking delay to July 19 in a press conference at 6pm on Monday rather than to Parliament.

But Sir Lindsay and the Prime Minister were said to have reached an agreement after a “cordial meeting” lasting around half an hour at Speaker’s House on Tuesday afternoon.

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle (PA Archive)

“The Speaker and the Prime Minister met this afternoon. It was a positive meeting in which they agreed the importance of keeping Parliament and the public informed when decisions are made,” Sir Lindsay’s spokeswoman said.

Asked whether any concrete decisions had been made to alleviate the row, the spokeswoman said: “They agreed announcements would be made at the same time.”

A No 10 source confirmed an agreement had been struck but there were no specifics on how future announcements would be made.

However, the details that have surfaced so far raise the prospect that one minister could break news to the public in a Downing Street press conference at the same time as another addresses MPs in the House.

The ministerial code expects major announcements should be made first in Parliament.

Ahead of the peace talks, Sir Lindsay had rebuked Mr Johnson before Health Secretary Matt Hancock addressed MPs more than two hours after the Prime Minister’s announcement.

Sir Lindsay had told the Commons: “The Prime Minister should be here, I am sorry if his dinner would have been affected because I was told he was in Brussels.

“The nearest Brussels tonight were the sprouts on his dinner being served.

“I say now, Prime Minister, you are on my watch and I want you to treat this House correctly.”

It’s always important that statements are made to this House and (Mr Hancock) was here yesterday to answer questions

Meanwhile, Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg confirmed that MPs will vote on Wednesday on the four-week delay of the road map.

They will also vote on extending virtual proceedings in the Commons until the summer recess, which is scheduled to begin on July 22.

Mr Rees-Mogg said: “It’s always important that statements are made to this House and (Mr Hancock) was here yesterday to answer questions.

“But I understand that Mr Speaker you are seeing the Prime Minister later on today to discuss this and to ensure everything is done as it ought to be done.

“I am confident the Prime Minister follows the ministerial code in all his doings.”

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