MP who held down John Bercow wanted to 'highlight public outcry' at Parliament suspension with 'act of defiance'

Jacob Jarvis

An MP who held down the Speaker amid outcry at the proroguing of Parliament said he wanted to show solidarity with street protests against the move.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle was seen placing his arms over John Bercow’s as he was called to the Lords to enable the suspension, while others held aloft signs reading “silenced”.

The Labour and Co-operative MP told the Standard his actions had historic precedent with his predecessors similarly holding down the Speaker in 1629 – when Charles I prorogued Parliament.

“A few of us had decided we wanted to hold the Speaker down, with the precedent it had happened before,” he said.

“We told him before that that was what we were going to do.”

Asked Mr Bercow’s reaction to that, Mr Russell-Moyle told the Standard: “He just acknowledged it.”

Explaining the moment, he said: “I was sitting on a stool by his feet. I kind of laid my arm over his lap – not with any force. He could have got up if he wanted to.

“I said to him afterwards, ‘I was conscious not to hurt you.’”

Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown. (PA)

Commenting on the events after he held on to the Speaker, when there appeared to be a scuffle as security intervened while other MPs held Mr Bercow's clothing, he said: “It was very courteous.”

He explained that his actions were also in part to represent the mood of angered members of the public.

“There was a feeling that we needed to show defiance,” he said.

“People have been protesting in the streets and we needed to demonstrate that.”

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There has also been a petition against the prorogation which has more than 1,700,000 signatures.

Mr Russell-Moyle said he did not know about all of the protests planned but added it was “remarkable” to see such action.

Responding to criticism levelled at some of the protests by politicians, he said: “Some politicians don’t like that kind of thing. But politics is protest and it’s demonstration as much as it’s reasoned argument. That’s the history of Parliament.”

Mr Russell-Moyle has previously protested in the Commons by picking up the ceremonial mace when a Brexit deal vote was controversially delayed.

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He also expressed concern that now Parliament is suspended “anything can happen” – with history showing the Government could delay the Queen’s Speech which will open a new session should it so wish.

On the prorogation in general, he said: “My feelings are that it’s a democratic disgrace. It’s all to stop scrutiny.

“The more they make it harder, the more our resolve will strengthen.”

The PM has rejected claims suspending Parliament is undemocratic and said he requires a Queen's Speech in order to lay out the Government's new legislative agenda.

Parliament was suspended at around 1.45am on Tuesday and is set to resume on October 14.

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