After the Mail on Sunday published an article detailing horrifically sexist claims from unnamed Tory MPs about Angela Rayner, House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay reached out to its editor David Dillon to discuss the report. However, many have seen this as a dramatic overreaction from Mr Hoyle, accusing him of falling into the alleged partisan politics of his predecessor, John Bercow.
The Tory MP quoted in the story reportedly said Ms Rayner had tried to put Boris Johnson “off his stride” by crossing and uncrossing her legs on the Labour front bench during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Writing for the Telegraph, Robert Taylor said: “Hoyle’s response is particularly depressing because we’ve only just got rid of one overreaching Speaker – the absurd, bullying Europhile, John Bercow.
“We grew to expect overreach from him, along with staggering self-regard. But we don’t expect it from Sir Lindsay, who has, until now, restored dignity and impartiality to his office, commanding respect from all sides and barely putting a foot wrong.
“The last thing we need is another Bercow.”
Many social media users have followed in a similar vein, with one saying of Sir Lindsay: “He was like a breath of fresh air after Bercow but it hasn’t taken him long to forget he’s supposed to be impartial.”
Another added: “The Hoyle Parliament has slipped into the sphere of the Bercow one.”
Another user implied Sir Lindsay had even gone further than Mr Bercow would, saying: “Hoyle way beyond remit by impliedly arrogating to Parliament the power to tell the Press what to write.
“Even Bercow, for all his myriad faults, didn’t try that.”
However, one retorted: “The idiots’ line today is to compare the current Speaker to John Bercow.
“If only. Under a principled Speaker like Bercow, Johnson would undoubtedly be gone by now. No wonder he didn’t get a peerage.”
The news story likened the claims to a scene from the 1992 erotic thriller Basic Instinct and also contained remarks that Ms Rayner “knows she can’t compete with Boris’ Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks”.
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The story and the tone of the piece has been widely condemned, with the PM calling it “sexist tripe”.
Ms Rayner said women in politics “face sexism and misogyny every day”, accusing the article of being “steeped in classism”, suggesting she was “thick” as she had attended a comprehensive school, and insinuated she was “promiscuous” for having a child aged 16.
Sir Lindsay told the Commons on Monday: “I share the views expressed by a wide range of members, including I believe the Prime Minister, that yesterday’s article was reporting unsubstantiated claims – and misogynistic and offensive.”
He said the remarks were “demeaning” to women in Parliament and “can only deter women who might be considering standing for election, to the detriment of us all”.
He added: “That is why I have arranged a meeting with the chair of the press lobby, the editor of the Mail on Sunday to discuss the issue affecting our parliamentary community.”
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