Now Labour turns on Commons Speaker after he appears to suggest Sir Keir Starmer would need Tony Blair’s ‘sprinkle of magic’ to get into Downing Street
- Sir Lindsay was accused of going beyond the Speaker’s political impartiality
- He was happy to talk about Sir Keir potentially needing the advice of Sir Tony
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle risked Labour anger by appearing to suggest that Sir Keir Starmer will need Tony Blair’s help to get into No 10.
Sir Lindsay was accused of straying beyond the Speaker’s traditional political impartiality by saying the Labour leader would require ‘the Blair sprinkle of magic’ to win power.
Sir Lindsay – who sat as a Labour MP before becoming Speaker – also said there was ‘always a need for a Tony Blair’.
But the remarks, made during a trip to the US last week, annoyed Starmer allies for reviving the ‘false narrative’ that Sir Keir’s lack of charisma was a drag on Labour’s Election hopes.
Sir Lindsay’s intervention will also fuel criticism from Labour’s Left that Sir Keir, who last week banned his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn from standing again as a Labour MP, has already ‘sold out’ to the Blairite wing of the party.
Remarks, made during a trip to the US last week, annoyed Starmer (pictured) allies for reviving the ‘false narrative’ that Sir Keir’s lack of charisma was a drag on Labour’s Election hopes
By tradition, MPs give up their previous political affiliations when they become Speaker to stay above the party political fray.
And in comments at the British American Business Council in Los Angeles last week, Sir Lindsay himself stressed how ‘I’ve got to be careful’ as ‘being neutral means I’m not meant to be political’.
But he then appeared happy to talk about Sir Keir potentially needing the advice of Sir Tony. The Speaker – who revealed he had already told the former prime minister that ‘the party needs you back’ – suggested that Sir Tony was ‘still pulling a few strings behind the scenes’.
Asked whether Sir Keir would try to bring him back in a senior role, he replied: ‘He won’t let him in but what he will do is take advice.
‘You’ve got to listen. If he wants to be elected, he has got to listen to other people. In the end, he will do it his way. But he will still need the Blair sprinkle of magic.’
Earlier, Chorley MP Sir Lindsay, first elected to the Commons in the 1997 Blair landslide, heaped praised on the three-times General Election winner as ‘a politician above all politicians of his era’.
He conceded that the Iraq War was ‘his biggest mistake’.
But Sir Lindsay added: ‘He stood out. He realised that if you do not hold the centre ground, you do not hold politics.’
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle (pictured) risked Labour anger by appearing to suggest that Sir Keir Starmer will need Tony Blair’s help to get into No 10
The Speaker also hailed Boris Johnson as ‘larger than life’ and a ‘great character’. Sir Keir’s office declined to comment last night.
But one senior Labour MP said that, although he was sure the Speaker meant no harm, ‘he should really steer clear of these sort of comments’.
Another MP said: ‘Lindsay is absolutely spot on in his analysis.
‘It’s just that in his position as Speaker, he shouldn’t really be the one saying it.’
Last night, sources close to the Speaker said Sir Lindsay was not suggesting that Sir Keir had to recall Tony Blair to win the next Election.
He was merely pointing out that any party leader would fare better with the type of undoubted public appeal that the former PM once had, they added.