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Fri, 4 December 2020

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By Kieran Lyons
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Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle warns Boris Johnson over plan to use Sunday TV speech for coronavirus lockdown ‘roadmap’

Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle warns Boris Johnson over plan to use Sunday TV speech for coronavirus lockdown ‘roadmap’

"Major government announcements should be made first in the House", Lindsay Hoyle told the Commons

2 min read

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has criticised the Government amid reports Boris Johnson will spell out his lockdown exit strategy in a televised speech before MPs are given the chance to take a look.

Sir Lindsay said it was a "matter of regret" that the Prime Minister would make a "major announcement" on lockdown without first running it past Parliament.

But Number 10 said it had a duty to set out the Government's thinking "in a clear way to the public".

In a statement to the Commons, the Speaker said: “It has been widely reported that the Government will make a major announcement about the review of lockdown this Sunday. 

“I consider this a matter of regret. It is important that the press is kept informed. But it is the duty of this house to hold the Government to account, not the media. 

“Major government announcements should be made first in the House and this is more important than ever during this time of crisis.”

It comes after Mr Johnson last week promised to set out a "comprehensive plan on how we can get the economy moving", with a TV address widely expected on Sunday.

Responding to the Speaker's criticism, the Prime Minister's spokepserson said: "What matters is that we get the right response, that we fully consider all the evidence end ensure that we communicate the next steps, whatever they may be, in a clear way to the public."

And they added: “We’ll continue to ensure Parliament is fully updated."

This is not the first time Ministers have been reprimanded by the Speaker for briefing the press before MPs.

Earlier this year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak was forced to apologise for announcing a sweeping round of government measures to tackle the economic effect of the coronavirus during the daily Downing Street press conference.

At the time, Sir Lindsay said he was “deeply disappointed” by the decision, saying ministers "have a duty to report first to this House when major policy changes are announced”.

He also referenced the Ministerial Code, which states that “the most important announcements of Government policy should be made in the first instance, in Parliament”.

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