Speaker Slammed For Not Calling Diane Abbott At PMQs After Frank Hester Row

Sir Lindsay Hoyle repeatedly overlooked the backbencher, even though she was a primary topic of discussion in the Commons.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle was criticised on social media for repeatedly overlooking Diane Abbott's attempt to speak in the Chamber
Sir Lindsay Hoyle was criticised on social media for repeatedly overlooking Diane Abbott's attempt to speak in the Chamber
BBC Parliament

The Speaker of the Commons is facing a wave of online backlash after he chose not to call on Diane Abbott during PMQs on Wednesday.

The backbencher repeatedly stood up in the Chamber to ask prime minister Rishi Sunak a question – only to be overlooked throughout the whole session by Sir Lindsay Hoyle, despite being at the centre of a row about racism and MP safety.

The Guardian claimed the Conservative’s largest donor Frank Hester said Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that “she should be shot” back in 2019.

Abbott, the UK’s first and longest-serving Black MP, has described Hester’s alleged remarks as “frightening” and expressed fears about her safety.

According to The Independent, Abbott has now reported Hester to the police.

A statement from Hester’s company said that he “accepts he was rude” about the MP, but claimed: “His criticism had nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin.”

The Tory donor also claimed he had tried to ring Abbott twice to “try to apologise directly for the hurt he has caused her”.

The alleged incident was a core topic of clashes in the Commons today, with Labour leader Keir Starmer asking why Sunak is refusing to hand back Hester’s £10 million donation to the Tories last year.

Sunak just acknowledged Hester’s reported comments were “wrong, they were racist”, adding that his remorse should be accepted.

SNP leader Stephen Flynn also spoke up about the alleged incident, accusing the PM of putting “money before morals”.

He also pointed out that Hester has apologised for being rude to Abbott – and Flynn claimed the donor was not “rude, he was racist”.

Meanwhile, Abbott stood up between every other speaker to try and catch Hoyle’s eye and ask a question.

But he chose not to call on the backbencher herself at all.

According to the BBC’s Chris Mason, both Flynn and Starmer went to speak to her after the session, along with a wave of other Labour backbenchers.

And it seems they were not the only ones to notice how Hoyle ignored her today, judging from the response on X (formerly Twitter)...

Hoyle has been fighting for his survival in the Commons ever since he was forced to apologise for going against parliamentary convention last month.

SNP and Tory MPs declared they had no confidence in him after he ignored his officials’ advice and selected a Labour amendment to an SNP opposition day motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.

Abbott later responded to the row by offering her own criticism of Hoyle’s decision to snub her.

A spokesperson for the Speaker said: “During prime minister’s questions, the Speaker must select MPs from either side of the house on an alternating basis for fairness.

“This takes place within a limited timeframe, with the chair prioritising members who are already listed on the order paper.

“This week – as is often the case – there was not enough time to call all members who wanted to ask a question.”


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