George Galloway’s Commons return won’t feature his trademark hat

George Galloway
George Galloway (centre) and his black fedora are inseparable - OLI SCARFF/AFP

For a decade, George Galloway and his black fedora hat have been inseparable – but the new MP for Rochdale could be parted from his favourite accessory when he takes his seat on Monday.

Mr Galloway became recognisable by his headwear while he was MP for Bradford West, between 2012 and 2015.

The controversial politician even has a merchandise website where fans can buy T-shirts embossed with his black hat.

But precedent dictates that Mr Galloway should refrain from wearing his hat while in the Chamber – and it would be the Speaker’s right to intervene if he deemed the fedora inappropriate.

According to rules set by Sir Lindsay Hoyle in 2021, MPs must dress in a way that “demonstrates respect for the institution of Parliament in the life of the nation”.

George Galloway is the new MP for Rochdale
Mr Galloway has become recognisable by his headwear - OLI SCARFF/AFP

There was no specific rule against the wearing of hats in the House of Commons, a spokesman confirmed.

But John Bercow, who was speaker until 2019, reprimanded Tory MP Peter Bone for wearing a multi-coloured knitted hat in the Chamber in 2016.

Mr Bone had been promoting Crazy Hats, a breast cancer charity that operated in his constituency.

Mr Bercow said: “I’ve indulged the honourable gentleman for the length of his question, but I’m glad that he’s now taken that hat off.

“And I sincerely hope he won’t put it on again, preferably at any time, but certainly not in the Chamber.”

The rules of dress were tightened by Sir Lindsay. His 2021 rules dictate that MPs should not wear jeans or chinos in the Commons, while his predecessor Mr Bercow had laid down “no exact dress code”.

Tall hats used to be compulsory

In the late 19th century, tall hats were compulsory and it was common to see MPs wearing hats in the Chamber until the 1990s.

It was convention for MPs to take off their hats when entering the house, but they could put them on again once they had sat down.

Two collapsible black opera hats were kept in the Commons chamber at all times, so that those raising a point of order during a vote could wear them and be seen more clearly.

This practice ended in 1998 as part of an attempt to modernise parliamentary procedures.

Ann Taylor, then leader of the house, claimed that it “really does make the House of Commons look ridiculous”.