Lindsay Hoyle says Boris Johnson steered country through ‘dark times’
The Speaker of the House of Commons has paid tribute to Boris Johnson’s conduct during the “dark times” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lindsay Hoyle was addressing MPs ahead of the prime minister’s final PMQs session on Wednesday afternoon.
Before questions were asked, Sir Lindsay accepted that MPs would have “differing views” about Mr Johnson’s legacy.
But he said: “It’s only fitting to note this is likely to be the final time the right honourable member for Uxbridge addresses the house as prime minister. I would like to wish him and his family all the best for the future.
“Can I say we’ve been through many dark times within this House and non moreso than through the pandemic, and always will be remembered for what this house did and the way that you conducted those duties during those dark times, prime minister.”
Sir Lindsay also urged MPs to conduct the session in a “respectful manner”, quoting from parliamentary handbook Erskine May that “good temper and moderation are the characteristics of the parliamentary debate”.
Mr Johnson was criticised for not locking down fast enough during the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Britain ultimately paid one of the worst death tolls in Europe.
The prime minister was himself hospitalised with a serious case of the disease while in office.
His supporters say his approach to the vaccine roll-out gave Britain an advantage in protecting itself against the disease in subsequent waves.
As proceedings were about to begin, Sir Lindsay added: “I understand that members will have differing views about the prime minister’s performance and legacy, and those views will be sincerely and passionately held, but I remind members that our constituents and others around the world watch these proceedings.
“Let us conduct them in a respectful manner focusing on issues and policies rather than personalities. I take this opportunity to remind members of the words of Erskine May. ‘Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of the parliamentary debate’. I expect to see that reflected today in the proceedings.”
Mr Johnson was booted out of office by his own MPs after a string of corruption, law-breaking and impropriety scandals pushed the Tories below Labour in the polls.
His successor will be picked in September after Tory members vote.