Betty Boothroyd, UK’s first woman Commons speaker, dies at 93

Betty Boothroyd, the first female speaker in Britain’s House of Commons, has died aged 93.

Lindsay Hoyle, the current speaker, announced her death in a statement on Monday, hailing Boothroyd as an “inspiring woman” and an “inspirational politician”.

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

“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.”

Boothroyd became the first woman to be elected speaker in April 1992 and presided over the Commons until October 2000.

She also served as a Labour Party MP for West Bromwich West, a seat in England’s midlands region, from 1973 to 2000.

In 2001, she became a baroness in the UK Parliament’s unelected upper chamber, the House of Lords.

Tributes to her work came from across the political spectrum on Monday.

Simon Clarke, the governing Conservative Party’s MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, described Boothroyd as a “magnificent parliamentarian”.

“It was still a thrill to see her around the Commons until recently. A really great Speaker,” he said in a post on Twitter.

Kim Johnson, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, meanwhile praised Boothroyd as a “strong northern, female and working class voice at the heart of Parliament”.

Boothroyd was born on October 8, 1929, in the market town of Dewsbury in northern England.

She was raised in a working-class family, described herself as having come “out of the womb into the Labour movement”, and held a number of office jobs prior to the beginning of her political career.

In recent years, Boothroyd was engaged in the campaign to keep the United Kingdom within the European Union. The UK voted to leave the bloc in a close-run 2016 referendum.

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