Natascha Engel goes barefoot in the Speaker's chair

Written by James Millar on 29 March 2017 in Diary
Diary

Deputy speaker went for casual style while overseeing Commons debate

Deputy speaker Natascha Engel has provoked a Twitter storm after being pictured in the House of Commons chamber barefoot.

The MP for North East Derbyshire who took up the role of deputy speaker in 2015 appeared to kick off her shoes during an afternoon debate on Monday and was pictured lounging in the Speaker’s chair resting her bare feet on a footstall.

The incident drew a range of responses from Westminster watchers. Some compared her behaviour to previous Commons Speakers like Betty Boothroyd and Bernard Weatherill who chose to dress up in full ceremonial garb when they were in charge of proceedings.

Weatherill was Speaker between 1983-92. Betty Boothroyd became the first female Speaker when she took over after the 1992 election. She dispensed with the traditional wig but kept the ancient speaker’s uniform.

Condemning Engel’s shoeless stance one commenter said: “Bernard Weatherill would never have done that” and another suggested that “standards are slipping”.

 

 

However others expressed support for Engel’s laid back approach insisting that she was demonstrating a ‘refreshingly casual’ stance and that previous occupants of the chair looked “trussed up like a turkey” in the more formal uniform. 

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