Gay Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle was kicked out of Parliament after taking the ceremonial mace which the House of Commons needs to meet, vote and pass bills.
The representative for Brighton Kemptown, who came out as HIV-positive last month ahead of World AIDS Day, took the ornate symbol of the monarch’s power on Monday (December 10) in protest of the government’s decision to delay a vote over Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement.
“Expel him! Disgrace!”
— Conservative MPs
Marching up to the Table of the House, which Speaker John Bercow sits behind, Lloyd Russell-Moyle—who was elected in 2017—unexpectedly grabbed the five-foot-long, 22lb mace and stood defiantly in the middle of the floor as Conservative MPs repeatedly shouted: “Expel him!” and “Disgrace!”
He then turned and walked towards the exit as Bercow told him: “Order! Put it back.”
The 32-year-old Labour MP refused to do so, but did hand the mace over to staff.
Bercow then ordered Russell-Moyle to leave the House for the day, saying: “I’m grateful to a dedicated servant of the House for bringing forward the mace and restoring it to its place.
“I’m sorry, but under the power given to me by standing order number 43—and I think the honourable gentleman will know the implications of his action—I must order the honourable gentleman to withdraw immediately from the House for the remainder of this day’s sitting.”
The MP remained in the House at first, rejecting the order until Bercow said, “No, no. He must leave or be escorted. He should leave,” according to The Guardian.
Lloyd Russell-Moyle explains why he took the ceremonial mace
The MP, who reportedly ended up in the Red Lion pub next to Parliament, tweeted that he would face no further consequences for his protest.
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“Thankfully they haven’t locked me in the Tower of London”
— Lloyd Russell-Moyle
“Thankfully they haven’t locked me in the Tower of London but if they had I’d expect May to be in the cell next to me for her treatment of Parliament today,” said Russell-Moyle.
“I’m allowed back tomorrow after my symbolic protest against this government, wish May wasn’t allowed back.”
He told HuffPost that the impulsive protest was prompted by the way in which the government had unilaterally decided to postpone the vote—using an archaic method which simply required a whip to publicly tell the House: “Tomorrow.”
He said: “I thought, one person is shouting ‘tomorrow’ and literally hundreds of people are shouting ‘today,’ and the will of Parliament is going to be ignored.
“The symbolic gesture of lifting the mace and removing it is that the will of Parliament to govern is no longer, it has been removed, and I felt Parliament had effectively given up its sovereign right to govern properly.”
“If we don’t sort out our constitutional settlement so that governments can’t do this in the future we do need to keep lodging these protest,” added Russell-Moyle.
He also told reporters that when he was carrying the mace towards the exit, “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.”
Watch Lloyd Russell-Moyle take the ceremonial mace: