While the rest of the UK starts to think about getting back to work, it’s been down to Lancashire MP and Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle to try to get Parliament up and running again.
“It’s important that scrutiny of the government continues at this time, not just in the five o’clock press conferences,” the MP for Chorley told a group of journalism students when he took time out for an online question and answer session.
Sir Lindsay has been presiding over the first “virtual” sittings of the Commons, which have been limited to 50 MPs, while others log in from home.
Before talking to the students, he’d been in the Speaker’s Chair as MPs quizzed the Chancellor and after the session, he was overseeing the first ever virtual vote in the Commons.
It’s a tough time for those in Parliament as well as in the rest of the UK, but Sir Lindsay says it is nothing new to his political colleagues.
He said the killing of fellow MP Jo Cox in June 2016 was something he still remembers vividly.
He said: “The most difficult thing I have had to deal with was the phone call to tell me that an MP had just been murdered.
“I’d just picked up the security responsibility within Parliament and I never want to have a phone call like that again.
“We will stand up against anybody who threatens a politician for doing their job. People cannot just abuse politicians because they don’t agree with what they are saying.”
Hoyle also touched on another dark day in political history with the 2017 terrorist attack on parliament.
He said: “I was in the chair that day and someone came up and told me that there was an attack.
“I asked how bad it was and got told there was a policeman dying outside. The same policeman who I’d spoken to every morning, who was defending the House of Commons, defending democracy.
“That was one of the most moving and most difficult things I’ve encountered and again, I never want to experience anything like it again.”
Despite his national role in the world of politics, Sir Lindsay expressed his love for hometown Chorley when he spoke to the students, some of whom live in his constituency.
He said: “I still go home to Chorley every weekend and people stop me to tell me how proud they are of me.
“Chorley matters to me, it’s where I grew up. It’s where I belong.”
An avid Bolton Wanderers fan, Hoyle admitted he’s used to standing up for the underdog.
He prides himself on maintaining a set of values and beliefs throughout every task thrown at him.
This included becoming the first ever Speaker of the House of Commons to hail from Lancashire, something which meant that because he has to be neutral in Parliament, he had to resign from the Labour Party.
He said: “My role has certainly helped to put Chorley on the map.
“I always say to people jokingly ‘not bad for a lad from Lancashire to get one of the leading jobs in the country’ but it really does mean a lot.
“I have to say a massive thank you to the people of Chorley for electing me because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
“I want to make a difference for those people.”
The journalism students heard how the Speaker’s relationship with the media has helped him communicate throughout his political career, and he told them his column in the local weekly paper The Chorley Guardian was a big part of this.
He said: “The column was the most important piece of media that I have ever been involved in.
“They didn’t want politics being driven down at them from the column, they wanted me to reflect local news, local interest and local people.
“They also wanted to get to know the human being behind the column and speaking to people one-on-one is what I believe is the key to getting elected.”
Family is of great significance to the Speaker, whose father Doug Hoyle was also an MP.
Sir Lindsay ensured that the student session ended on a high by cracking jokes about his vast repertoire of pets.
He said the feathered Boris has been accompanying him on his trips between Lancashire and London, whether it be by car or train.
He said: “Boris isn’t keen on Wigan railway station. He thinks it’s too cold, especially during wintertime.
“He’s part of a political pet family and he is getting used to it, he shouts ‘order order’ now!”
After the student session, Sir Lindsay said: “Being quizzed by journalists always keeps you on your toes – and the student journalists from the University of Central Lancashire certainly gave me a run for my money with their searching and incisive questions. “