Cyprus Mail

‘Friendship and democracy bind Cyprus and the UK’

pc jessica taylor sir lindsay hoyle
Sir Lindsay Hoyle (Photo: UK Parliament)

By Athanasios Gavos

Friendship and democracy bind Cyprus and the UK, the Speaker of House of Commons has said ahead of a visit to the island next week.

The bilateral friendship between the two countries is at a high point, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, told CNA in an interview.

Elected Speaker of the UK House of Commons in November 2019, Sir Lindsay, 64, was keen to assert the role heads of legislature can play when they join forces, both in upholding democracy and in making a difference to people’s lives.

His schedule includes a meeting with House president Annita Demetriou and an address to parliament, in a first official visit to Cyprus by a UK Speaker.

“To be able to share in these celebrations is an absolute privilege for me. It is so important for the (bilateral) relationship. A visit to a very, very important friend that is Cyprus. So, a big thank you to Cyprus and the people of Cyprus for inviting me,” he said.

A testimony to the Cyprus-UK bilateral friendship was the tens of thousands of Britons living in Cyprus and the hundreds of thousands of Cypriots living in the UK.

“It’s always good to be strong, isn’t it? It’s this interconnection of people going both ways, it’s that friendship. Also, it is the fact that this has been developed over decades and therefore it doesn’t end, it continues to grow.” And this is what he is keen to explore with his visit.

“What more can we do to support each other’s countries, what more can we do to develop trade, better understanding, you know. We’ve got this great friendship but we can build on that and that’s what I would like to see both countries do,” he said.“We are countries who have a democratic process. We are the people that are elected to represent our constituents. We have this common bind, this belief in democracy, that’s what binds us together… We could sit down, have a conversation, we could share knowledge, interact and build – it’s about building a future. Because if we haven’t got democracy, what have we got?”
He admitted, however, that the strength of democracy in the modern world was a concern for him. “It’s been a difficult period and I’ve got to say that you go through waves and I think we are at a low point in democratic terms,” he said.

He refers to “bullies” around the world, the US Capitol Hill riots, the threat of terrorism and also to the social media that can play “a major role in destabilising democracy” with “false ‘truths and false allegations” in their “dark side”.On the day of the interview, he had felt the need to issue a warning to MPs that “words have consequences”, following the abuse targeted against the leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer by an agitated crowd, partly motivated by a discredited allegation in Parliament against Sir Keir made by PM Boris Johnson.“The first thing is that what we cannot allow is mob rule,” said Sir Lindsay. “I want protest, I expect protest, (but) they must be peaceful and they must be lawful.”As the Speaker of the House, he said he was neutral. “I’m neither on one side of the House or the other. But what I expect is tolerance and respect from each side of the House”.

Referring to his upcoming visit, he said he wanted to visit Cyprus because he loves the country. “…  and what a wonderful people! This to me is a great opportunity to just re-engage with Cyprus… It’s going to be a fantastic visit!”

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