First-ever woman Speaker of the House of Commons dies at 93

The first female Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, has died.

Lindsay Hoyle announced the 93-year-old’s death today, describing her as an “inspirational politician, and someone I was proud to call my friend.”

Baroness Boothroyd served as Speaker from 1992 to 2000, and was also the MP for West Bromwich and West Bromwich West from 1973 to 2000.

Mr Hoyle added: “Betty was one of a kind. A sharp, witty and formidable woman – and I will miss her.”

Her death leaves John Bercow as the only living former Speaker of the House of Commons. 

Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s full statement read: “Not only was Betty Boothroyd an inspiring woman, but she was also an inspirational politician, and someone I was proud to call my friend.

“To be the first woman Speaker was truly ground-breaking and Betty certainly broke that glass ceiling with panache.

“She was from Yorkshire, and I am from Lancashire – so there was always that friendly rivalry between us. But from my point of view, it was heartening to hear a Northern voice speaking from the Chair.

“She stuck by the rules, had a no-nonsense style, but any reprimands she did issue were done with good humour and charm.’Betty was one of a kind. A sharp, witty and formidable woman – and I will miss her.”

Baroness Boothroyd, who had been born into a working-class family in Dewsbury in 1929, was introduced to politics early on in life due to her mother’s membership of the woman’s section of the Labour Party. 

She was taken to rallies, witnessing speeches from giants of the Labour Party such as Clement Attlee and Nye Bevan. 

For a time Baroness Boothroyd had dreams of being a dancer, working as part of the Tiller Girls dancing troupe – during which she appeared at the London Palladium. However, this was cut short by a foot infection when she was aged 25. 

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