Tory MP barred from speaking while wearing sweater to Commons debate

Jonathan Gullis was made to ‘dress properly’ before speaking to the chamber via video link

Sam Hancock
Wednesday 24 February 2021 14:55 GMT
MP snubbed from making virtual Commons contribution for being casually dressed

An MP has been admonished for his casual choice of clothing while appearing in the House of Commons, the latest in a string of politicians to have been given a dressing down over not sufficiently dressing up for a virtual debate.

Jonathan Gullis, Stoke-on-Trent’s Tory representative, was skipped over during a Commons debate on support for businesses and individuals during the pandemic.

Deputy speaker Dame Eleanor Laing was about to invite Mr Gullis to speak, before she noticed he was wearing a jumper – and not the jacket required by the Commons dress code.

“We now go to... we now go... no, I don’t think we do go to Stoke-on-Trent, the honourable gentleman has to be dressed as if he were here in the chamber,” she said during the Tuesday evening session.

“So, we will not go to Stoke-on-Trent, we will try to come back to Mr Gullis in due course, but we will go now to Chesterfield, [with Labour MP] Toby Perkins.”

It comes as a number of politicians continue to work from home to adhere to social distancing measures.

Dame Eleanor later returned to Mr Gullis, who appeared on screen again wearing a jacket.

“We are now going back to Stoke-on-Trent, where I observe that the honourable gentleman is now properly dressed,” she said.

There is no clear-cut dress code for the Commons - but rules state men must wear jackets, while ties are not needed. Jeans, T-shirts, sandals and trainers are also not considered appropriate.

Explaining the move, Dame Eleanor said: “Lest anyone should be confused, when people are participating virtually then they are appearing in this chamber, the chamber of the House of Commons, and therefore it is absolutely imperative that everybody taking part in these debates should be dressed in the way that they would be in the House of Commons.”

Mr Gullis replied: “Thank you Madam Deputy Speaker, the jacket is now on! Apologies.”

A number of dress code incidents have occurred since the Covid-19 outbreak last year, which forced many politicians to partake in Westminster events digitally.

Back in November, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt was told off by speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle for failing to dress smartly.

“Can I just remind members who are not in the chambers, that you should have the same dress code even if you are virtual – it is only fair that we treat each other with the same respect,” Sir Lindsay said at the time.

Mr Hunt, the Conservative MP for South West Surrey, appeared to be wearing a formal shirt but was not sporting a jacket or tie and had his top button undone.

Fellow Tory Michael Fabricant and Welsh Labour’s Kevin Brennan have also been called out for their attire by Sir Lindsay in the past 12 months.

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