Boris backlash: Speaker ’worried’ by plans to televise Number 10 briefings

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He voiced his concern that the plan was “not the way forward” and that important announcements should always be made in Parliament beforehand. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, he said the televised briefings could confuse MPs if they found out about policy changes through the media.

Sir Lindsay said he had been troubled over recent months about Downing Street taking to press briefings to announce major policies rather than in the Commons.

He said: “If there’s something new to come out and you want to tell the world, tell parliament and let the world watch it from parliament’s eyes.

“We’re elected to scrutinise. Members are elected to hold the government to account and we’ve got to allow them to do so.

“And if you’re briefing the press first, that’s not the way forward.

“It’s not good for Downing Street, it’s not good for relations and it doesn’t endear your own backbenchers.

“They want to know that they count and that they matter. And I think that’s the way forward for all of us.”

The Speaker also indicated the return to normality in Parliament could take a while.

He said: “It would be nice to be able to turn the clock back and know that you could have a full chamber without risk.

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“But while there’s risk, I cannot see it.

“Safety does come first – it’s about protecting people.

“There is no greater day than seeing a packed chamber with everybody jostling to be in there.

“That’s what brings this House alive, that’s what makes this House. But that won’t happen until we know it’s safe.”

He added: “The one thing all of us can agree on is that we need to get on with doing some repairs.

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“We need to make this place safe, we’ve got to make it fit for purpose. So something will have to happen.

“But it’s not for me to decide – it’s for the House to decide.”

Sir Lindsay said he liked the “clash of styles” between Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions.

He also admitted he had sought advice from a former Speaker, Baroness Boothroyd.

She explained to him the best way to ensure the set piece of the parliamentary week did not run for longer than the specified time.

During the interview, he opened up about suffering type-one diabetes, which he found out he had shortly before last year’s election campaign.

He said: ”When it significantly drops, I have to take a jelly baby.

“So when I go very low, I rely on the jelly baby to put me back in the right place.”

Sir Lindsay added: “I always say to people with diabetes, it doesn’t end your life – far from it.

“You’ve just got to work with it. And that’s what I want to prove.”

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