Lib Dem MP forced out of his seat after Nigel Farage 'turns up late'

Reform UK leader, Nigel Farage speaking in the House of Commons. (PA)
Reform UK leader, Nigel Farage speaking in the House of Commons. (PA)

A Lib Dem MP has claimed he had to give up his seat to Nigel Farage in the House of Commons after the Reform Party leader arrived late to the first debate.

Al Pinkerton, the newly elected MP for Surrey Heath, posted a video on X saying he gave up his seat in the crowded rooms despite arriving early for the debate.

He said he was comfortable in his seat at the back of the chamber when "Nigel Farage turned up rather late to the occasion".

Pinkerton said: "I had to give up my seat for Nigel Farage who had obviously been enjoying the hospitality of the tea rooms in the House of Commons prior to coming along."

Read more: How many seats did Reform win - and why they don't match its vote share? (Yahoo News)

He said the whips requested he give up his seat to Farage so he could make a speech with a microphone during the debate, a courtesy usually afforded to the leaders of each party during the election of the speaker.

Farage used the speech to praise Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle and criticise his predecessor as speaker John Bercow.

The Reform leader also made a joke about his numerous failed attempts to be elected to parliament while discussing Reform's entry to the Commons. He said: "We have no experience in this parliament whatsoever – even though some of us have tried many times over the years to get here."

Not ever MP can fit on the benches in the House of Commons. (PA)
Not every MP can fit on the benches in the House of Commons. (PA)

Bercow was pivotal in setting the tone during the debates on leaving the EU, with many MPs believing he was too lenient to the Remain camp. Farage said: "It is I must say in marked contrast to the little man that was there before you and besmirched the office so dreadfully in doing his best to overturn the biggest democratic result in the history of the country."

Hoyle was easily re-elected to the speaker role and parliament then moved on to swearing in the new MPs.

Former deputy Labour leader Tom Watson commented on Pinkerton's video saying no one is obliged to give up their seat, but added it was decent of the Lib Dem to do so.

Unusually for national parliaments, not every MP can fit on the benches in the House of Commons.

With 650 MPs (although always slightly fewer due to Sinn Fein not taking up their seats) it can be quite a squeeze to fit into the debating chamber.

Just 427 MPs can fit onto the green benches if they pack in tightly, with the rest who arrive late having to stand by the entrance.

To make things even more difficult one side of the chamber is reserved for the current government with the other given to the opposition. But, due to the size of the Labour landslide, it currently has 411 MPs meaning if every single one of them wanted a seat they would take up almost the entire chamber.

The current House of Commons was built in the 1840s when there were far fewer MPs but attempts to change it have long been rejected. Very rarely does every MP need to attend a debate and British politicians including Winston Churchill have said they preferred the smaller room creating intimacy between the members and encouraging livelier debate.