UNITED STATES: The first female leader of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, passed away at the age of 93. Former Labour MP Baroness Boothroyd served as speaker from 1992 until her retirement in 2000. She was the first speaker to be chosen after the Commons debates were first broadcast on television in 1989.
Lindsay Hoyle, the current speaker of the Commons, led the tributes to Boothroyd, calling her an “inspirational woman and politician” who “stuck to the rules” and will be remembered for her “good humour and charm.”
From 1973 until 2000, Boothroyd represented West Bromwich West (formerly West Bromwich) as an MP. After leaving the Commons, she was appointed a life peer in the House of Lords.
“She was from Yorkshire, and I am from Lancashire, so there was always that friendly rivalry between us. But from my point of view, it was heartening to hear a northern voice speaking from the chair. She stuck to the rules and had a no-nonsense style, but any reprimands she did issue were done with good humour and charm. Betty was one of a kind. A sharp, witty, and formidable woman – and I will miss her.” Hoyle said in a statement.
By refusing to wear the customary white wig and ensuring that her successors would have the option to do so, Boothroyd modernised the Common Speaker’s position.
In one of her more contentious moments, she did impose a similar prohibition in the Commons public balcony and prohibited MPs from breastfeeding their infants during select committee meetings.
Simon Clarke, the Middlesbrough South, and East Cleveland Tory MP called Boothroyd a “magnificent parliamentarian” and said it had been “a thrill” to see her in recent years. The Warrington North Labour Member, Charlotte Nichols, expressed her “absolute devastation” at the information.
Boothroyd was raised in a working-class family in Dewsbury and became active in politics at an early age because her mother belonged to the Labour Party’s women’s wing. She served two important Labour MPs, Barbara Castle, and Geoffrey de Freitas, after relocating to London in the 1950s.