An MP was kicked out of the House of Commons on Monday after he picked up the Queen’s mace in an extraordinary protest at the government’s handling of Brexit.
Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s theatrics stirred outcry as Parliament was locked in a Brexit debate. He seized the ceremonial mace from the chamber’s table in protest and strutted down the centre of the House with it.
The Brighton Kemptown MP took hold of the silver-gilt object when the government formally announced it would not be continuing with the debate on the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
The mace represents the Queen’s authority, and without it, all parliamentary meetings and laws are void. It has been seized several times since it became an integral part of proceedings in the 17th century.
Appalled that the mace was removed, Tory MPs shouted “disgrace” and “expel him.”
Unsure as to what to do next following his rebellious act, he returned the object to Commons officials, who put it back in its place.
At that point Commons speaker John Bercow intervened to discipline the MP, suspending him for the rest of the day’s sitting.
But the MP didn’t budge, and left only after Bercow, who has been the House speaker for nine years, put his foot down and said: “No, no he must leave or be escorted, he should leave.”
Russell-Moyle later explains his motives to the media: “The symbolic gesture of lifting the mace and removing it is that the will of parliament to govern is no longer there, it has been removed. I felt parliament had effectively given up its sovereign right to govern properly.
“They stopped me before I got out of the chamber and I wasn’t going to struggle with someone wearing a huge sword on their hip.”
While the emergency meeting, called by Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday afternoon, was live streamed on BBC Parliament, it failed to show the moment the MP carried out his stunt.
Parliament tends to omit such incidences from its feed in a bid to discourage MPs from copycat protests.
But a journalist at a BBC political research unit managed to record the memorable moment and posted it on Twitter, where it went viral.
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