Mourners gather for funeral of ‘remarkable’ Betty Boothroyd

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Rishi Sunak has led tributes to Baroness Betty Boothroyd, the only female speaker of the House of Commons, as mourners gathered for her funeral.

The Prime Minister said she was “remarkable”, adding: “Parliament stands taller because of her service.”

The funeral in Cambridgeshire means that Mr Sunak will be absent from Prime Minister’s Questions.

He said: “Today we come together from across the political spectrum to remember one of our greatest speakers – the remarkable Betty Boothroyd.”

Lady Boothroyd, a former Labour MP, died last month at the age of 93.

She shattered more than 700 years of parliamentary tradition when she became the first woman to be elected speaker in April 1992, staying on until October 2000.

Betty Boothroyd death
Baroness Boothroyd campaigning in the Nelson and Colne by-election in 1968 (PA File)

Mr Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer are expected to attend the funeral, with their deputies standing in at the despatch box for Prime Minister’s Questions.

Betty Boothroyd funeral
Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle (centre) arrives for the funeral of Betty Boothroyd (Joe Giddens/PA)

Born to mill worker parents in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, in 1929, Lady Boothroyd was a professional dancer from 1946 to 1948 and appeared in pantomime in London’s West End before going into politics.

She unsuccessfully contested four parliamentary seats before being elected to West Bromwich (later to become West Bromwich West) in May 1973.

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