Jewish MPs pay their respects to Betty Boothroyd after she dies, aged 93

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Jewish MPs pay their respects to Betty Boothroyd after she dies, aged 93

The first and only female Speaker of the House of Commons was 'inspirational in all she achieved', says Dame Margaret Hodge

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Betty Boothroyd (pic YouTube)
Betty Boothroyd (pic YouTube)

Jewish MPs have joined colleagues from across the political spectrum to pay their respects to the first female Speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd, who has aged 93.

Boothroyd, who was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, went on to serve as the Labour MP for West Bromwich, before becoming the first woman Speaker from 1992 to 2000.

Following confirmation of her death on Monday, Dame Margaret Hodge, the Jewish Labour Movement’s parliamentary chair tweeted:”Sad to hear the news that Betty Boothroyd has passed away.

“She was a trailblazer for women as the first female Speaker of the House.

“Inspirational in all she achieved. She will be missed by all.”

In a tribute published by the Guardian, Hodge also said Boothroyd “was also personally kind and supportive, and backed you up when you did difficult things. ”

She added:”During the antisemitism row in the Labour party, when I was going through a very difficult time, she came up to me and said ‘well done’.”

Hodge’s Labour colleague Charlotte Nichols also tweeted:”Absolutely devastated to hear news of the death of Betty Boothroyd; she was my idol as a small child and the reason I got interested in politics.

“I’ve only seen her once in Westminster and was too awestruck to even introduce myself, and now I’ll never have that opportunity.”

Lord John Mann, the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, tweeted:”Betty Boothroyd was a speaker without comparison.

“I worked very closely with her booting the Militant out of the Labour Party. She was a lioness – and also great company.”
The former Speaker had  died at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge on Sunday.

Ex-Conservative minister David Davis said: “Although I had my differences with her, she was a formidable Speaker and had a historic place as the first female Speaker of the House of Commons.”

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson simply tweeted: “Betty Boothroyd was magnificent.”

As the only female Speaker to date she was in the chair during the parliamentary wrangling over the Maastricht Treaty, and for some of former PM Tony Blair’s most successful years.

When Conservative leader William Hague remarked on how Boothroydhad governed the lower chamber with “exemplary courtesy, charm and when necessary a little firmness… augmented in pitch by a packet of cigarettes every day”.

Boothroyd, who later sat in the Lords as a crossbench peer, was praised by current Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle as “an inspirational woman” who was known for her “no-nonsense style”.

He added:”To be the first woman Speaker was truly ground-breaking and Betty certainly broke that glass ceiling with panache.

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

Harriet Harman – the longest-serving female member of the Commons and former Deputy Labour leader – said: “She was a remarkable woman.

“For her, as a woman to get to chair the overwhelmingly male Commons she had to be tough, professional, authoritative and indomitable.”

In 2019 Baroness Boothroyd had givenas powerful speech on the need for a second referendum greeted with a standing ovation to which she replied with her distinctive “order, order”.



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