May 19. 2024. 1:14

The Daily

Read the World Today

Betty Boothroyd, first female speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, dies aged 93

Betty Boothroyd, the trailblazing first female speaker of Britain’s House of Commons, has died aged 93, drawing tributes from across parliament for her distinctive, firm-but-fair style honed over a five-decade political career.

First elected to parliament as a member of the Labour Party in 1973, Ms Boothroyd made history when she was chosen by MPs to become speaker in 1992, going on to serve an eight-year term as the enforcer of parliamentary protocols.

“She stuck by the rules, had a no-nonsense style, but any reprimands she did issue were done with good humour and charm,” current speaker Lindsay Hoyle said in a statement on Monday.

“Betty was one of a kind. A sharp, witty and formidable woman – and I will miss her,” he added.

READ MORE

Catalan leader to seek consensus on terms of an independence referendum


Bucha remembers: ‘I walked into the garden and found him lying there face down, where they had shot him’

Bucha remembers: ‘I walked into the garden and  found him lying there face down, where they had shot him’

Catholic cathedral plays crucial role in supporting the citizens of Kharkiv

Catholic cathedral plays crucial role in supporting the citizens of Kharkiv

Nigerian elections: Tens of millions of voters expected to turn out for polls

Nigerian elections: Tens of millions of voters expected to turn out for polls

Born in Yorkshire, she delivered cutting rebukes to any MP who stepped out of line, often providing a stark contrast to the male-dominated parliamentary ranks and their formal and deferential language.

“I’m sick and tired of hearing you shout out from a sedentary position,” she scolded one MP who was heckling then-prime minister John Major in 1997.

During her time in the speaker’s chair, Ms Boothroyd refereed parliament through tumultuous debates over the European Union’s Maastricht Treaty – notably in 1993 having to cast a rare deciding vote to resolve a deadlocked chamber.

“Betty was formidable in the chair, but earned the respect and admiration of the whole House,” former prime minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter.

“I will always remember her inimitable style, but also her immense personal warmth and kindness.”

In 2013, Ms Boothroyd said the most memorable moment of her speaker’s career was when Nelson Mandela took her hand as he walked to deliver an historic address in parliament’s Westminster Hall after heeding her warning about a tricky set of steps on the way.

After retiring from the House of Commons in 2000, she was made a member of the House of Lords, where she continued to contribute to political debate into her 90s.

In October 2020, in what would be her final speech recorded in the chamber’s official record, Ms Boothroyd lamented the impact parliament’s post-Brexit paroxysms were having on public trust in politicians.

“We shall not deserve our reputation and regain our self-respect until once again the world knows that our word is our deed and that we are committed to the rule of law,” she said.

Tributes to Ms Boothroyd poured in from across the political divide, hailing her formidable parliamentary presence and her personal warmth. “The passion, wit & sense of fairness she brought to politics will not be forgotten,” prime minister Rishi Sunak said on Twitter. – Reuters