As his daughter was about to make the 250-mile journey from Lancashire to her home in Essex, Sir Lindsay Hoyle called her to warn her to drive carefully. It’s a ‘dad thing’, he says. She may have been 28, but like all loving fathers he still worried.
It was shortly before Christmas 2017, and Natalie had been visiting her elder sister Emma, and niece and nephew, Austin, seven, and Sophie, five. ‘We spoke before she set off and she told me what a fantastic day they’d all had,’ he recalls.
‘She was full of life, full of energy. They’d been to a Christmas farm and played with reindeers. I told her to watch out as it was starting to snow. I was worried about her driving in the snow and ice. Her mum and I had bought her a new car just ten days earlier. Like any dad, I was worried.’
Sir Lindsay Hoyle with his daughter Natalie Lewis-Hoyle who was found dead in her bedroom in December 2017
It was to be the last time he heard his daughter’s voice. The following Friday, he got a call from Natalie’s mother Miriam to say their daughter was dead.
Not a victim of treacherous weather, but something beyond anyone’s control. She’d been found by her mother dead in her bedroom at the home they shared in Heybridge, Essex. It is believed that she took her own life. That terrible phone call still haunts him.
Sir Lindsay, who on Monday was elected the new Speaker of the House of Commons, says: ‘I was rocked to the core. To this day, I still can’t believe she’s gone.’
It is believed Natalie took her own life. The night she died, there had been a telephone call with the boyfriend after she’d returned from a night out drinking
Natalie had been in what her mother Miriam Lewis, Sir Lindsay’s former partner of eight years and a Tory councillor, described to the inquest into her death as a ‘toxic’ on-and-off relationship for more than two years.
The night she died, there had been a telephone call with the boyfriend after she’d returned from a night out drinking.
‘We don’t know what was said. All we do know is that she is no longer with us. But she’s still here,’ he says holding up his phone. ‘I’ve got her number. I’ve got her voice messages.’
A coroner later recorded an open verdict, ruling there was not enough evidence that Natalie intended to die. Essex Police concluded there were no suspicious circumstances or third party involved in her death, and this was accepted by the court.
Sir Lindsay, who on Monday was elected the new Speaker of the House of Commons, says: ‘I was rocked to the core. To this day, I still can’t believe she’s gone'
Not an emotional man by nature, the bluff Lancastrian MP for Chorley describes himself as a typical ‘tough Northerner’. But the very mention of Natalie’s name threatens tears.
In his acceptance speech to the House of Commons on Monday, Sir Lindsay made a heartfelt tribute to his daughter: ‘There’s one difficult part I want to get over. There is one person who is not here. My daughter, Natalie. I wish she could have been here.’
Sir Lindsay first took up his hallowed green seat in the House of Commons 22 years ago
One cannot imagine what it must have been like for him to watch his bright, feisty, capable daughter (Natalie was following in her parents’ footsteps and had joined the local parish council) being destroyed by a relationship.
He admits he did try to intervene — but it didn’t work. Miriam told the inquest there had been an ‘attack’ — the details of which were not given — a few weeks before she died, at a time when her daughter’s relationship ‘was really, really deteriorating’.
‘I’d met him and told Natalie to get rid of him. But she couldn’t do it,’ says Sir Lindsay.
Following her death, her mother set up a charity, called Chat With Nat, offering advice and support to those who feel they have nowhere to turn.
An instantly likeable and affable character, who is universally popular in Parliament, unlike predecessor John Bercow for whom he deputised for nine years, it doesn’t feel like there could be much this 62-year-old, inveterate Labour man hasn’t talked his way around.
That glorious, rich, Chorley accent remains as untouched by Westminster as it was 22 years ago when he first took up his hallowed green seat in the House of Commons.
And there are other women he’s determined to keep safe: his fellow MPs. The abuse and threats directed at them, both online and in person, he says, are totally unacceptable.
Natalie Lewis-Hoyle with her grandfather, Sir Lindsay's father, Doug Hoyle. In his acceptance speech to the House of Commons on Monday, Sir Lindsay made a heartfelt tribute to his daughter
He refers to Labour MP Jo Cox, murdered by fanatic Thomas Mair in June 2016, and again to fellow West Lancs Labour MP Rosie Cooper, the intended victim of a foiled murder plot by neo-Nazi Jack Renshaw, who was jailed last year.
And also to the vile stream of vitriol directed at MPs — female ones in particular — on social media.
MPs are leaving the House, he says. Many more talented women, he fears, could be put off entering politics in the first place.
Most recently, Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan announced she was resigning as an MP after almost ten years, citing the horrifying increase in personal abuse online and in the street as one of the factors.
In his acceptance speech Sir Lindsay said: 'There is one person who is not here. My daughter, Natalie. I wish she could have been here'
‘Nicky Morgan is a nice person, a genuinely good MP, and she has suffered abuse. We have a real problem here,’ says Sir Lindsay.
‘The abuse that Diane Abbott gets is not acceptable. Diane is a very strong person to be able to deal with it, but then you look at the threats against those who are not high profile. Poor Jo was just starting out. Rosie went through everything. It made no sense.
‘We have social media monitors now which is really important, to watch what is going on, but it is an area that needs strengthening.’
As Deputy Speaker, Sir Lindsay was heavily involved in upgrading security for MPs, who now all have the opportunity to carry personal alarms which connect them to a security call centre.
He hates bullies. Hates bullying. Won’t be standing for it.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
When Sir Lindsay Harvey Hoyle was elected the 158th Speaker on Monday, he won by more than 100 votes. The applause from the Tory benches was arguably louder than from Labour’s. He still can’t believe he’s done it. ‘When I became MP for Chorley it was an achievement.
‘To actually sit on a green leather bench in the Commons. The pride of representing your home town and the constituency that has just elected you. It really was electrifying. Of course I never thought I would