Kate Hoey

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Kate Hoey

Kate Hoey, May 2009 1.jpg
Minister for Sport
In office
20 October 1999 – 7 June 2001
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byTony Banks
Succeeded byRichard Caborn
Member of Parliament
for Vauxhall
Assumed office
15 June 1989
Preceded byStuart Holland
Majority20,250 (36.7%)
Personal details
Born (1946-06-21) 21 June 1946 (age 72)
Mallusk, Northern Ireland[1]
Political partyLabour
Alma materUniversity of Ulster
London Guildhall University

Catharine Letitia Hoey (born 21 June 1946) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Vauxhall since a 1989 by-election. She served in the Blair Government as Minister for Sport from 1999 to 2001.


Born in Mallusk, County Antrim,[1] Hoey studied at Belfast Royal Academy. While attending the Ulster College of Physical Education, she joined the International Marxist Group, one of the few people with an Ulster unionist background to do so in the 1960s.[2] She has a degree in Economics earned in London and was a Vice-President of the National Union of Students.[3]


Hoey has a longstanding interest in sport. She was the 1966 Northern Ireland High Jump Champion[4] and has worked for football clubs including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and Brentford, as an Educational Advisor. Prior to entering Parliament she was educational adviser to Arsenal Football Club from 1985 to 1989.

A founder member of the London Northern Ireland Supporters' Club, Hoey took part in a St Patrick's Day parade in London with Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez.[5]


Hoey in 2009, on the day of Michael Martin's resignation as Speaker of the House of Commons

Hoey unsuccessfully contested Dulwich at the 1983 and 1987 general elections, being defeated by the Conservative Gerald Bowden, on the second occasion by only 180 votes. In 1989, she was elected at the Vauxhall by-election precipitated by the resignation of Stuart Holland. Black candidate Martha Osamor had the most nominations, with Hoey only having one,[6] but the National Executive Committee declined to shortlist Osamor and imposed a shortlist on the constituency party. When the local party refused to choose from the shortlist, Hoey was imposed by the NEC as the Labour candidate.[7]

Hoey was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office from 1998 to 1999, and Minister for Sport in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport from 1999 to 2001.

Hoey is a Eurosceptic and libertarian, and has often rebelled against her party.[8] She was a prominent critic of the ban on handguns[9] and, in an interview in Sporting Gun magazine, voiced her support for fox hunting.[9] She has voted against government policy on the war in Iraq, foundation hospitals, university tuition and top-up fees, ID cards and extended detention without trial. She was a leading Labour rebel supporting a referendum on the EU Lisbon Treaty.[10] Hoey has also opposed the smoking ban in clubs and pubs, reclassification of cannabis from a Class B to Class C and originally opposed devolution. She also favours stricter controls on immigration, tougher welfare reform, withdrawal from the European Union, English Votes for English Laws, grammar schools, marriage tax allowances, free schools and academies. She is a critic of the BBC and she also spoke in support of the election of unionist MPs in Northern Ireland.

As the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe, Hoey was a vocal critic of the government of Robert Mugabe. In 2005, she called on Tony Blair to put diplomatic pressure on South Africa to condemn Zimbabwean government demolitions of townships, after an unsanctioned visit to the country.[11] The Zimbabwean government threatened to jail her if she repeated her "sneak" visit.[12]

In 2010, Hoey was described as "the least gay-friendly of all Labour MPs" by the Chief Executive of Stonewall.[13] However, she voted in favour of same-sex marriage in 2013.[14]

On 29 April 2008, it was announced that Hoey would form part of the team of Conservative Boris Johnson, should he become Mayor, as an unpaid non-executive director advising on sport and the 2012 Olympics.[15] The announcement was controversial both because Hoey had once said of London's Olympic bid "we don't deserve it and Paris does"[16] and because it could have been perceived as endorsing an election candidate from a rival party.[17]

Kate Hoey nominated John McDonnell for the Labour leadership, but on his withdrawal, she switched her nomination to Diane Abbott. However, she voted for Andy Burnham in 2010, giving Ed Miliband her second preference. In 2015, Hoey supported Andy Burnham and Caroline Flint for the leadership and deputy leadership, saying that she could not see Liz Kendall as a Prime Minister.[citation needed]

2016 EU Referendum and after[edit]

Hoey advocated the United Kingdom should leave the European Union (EU) during the campaign for the EU membership referendum held on 23 June 2016. She pointed to Labour's earlier Eurosceptism "from Attlee to Foot" in The Independent and changes in European bodies since Jacques Delors' advocacy of a "social Europe" to refute the claim that Eurosceptism is a movement of the right.[18]

Originally active in Labour Leave as a co-chair, Hoey resigned in February 2016 following internal disagreements.[19] Soon afterwards she became active in Grassroots Out, along with UKIP leader Nigel Farage and George Galloway of the Respect Party.[20] In her borough of Vauxhall an estimated 78% voted to remain in the EU.[21][22] Her local Constituency Labour Party issued a statement in February 2017 saying that they believed she was insufficiently opposing Conservative government policy on child refugees and the residency rights of people from the EU after Britain leaves.[23]

In the following month, Hoey was one of 70 parliamentary signatories to a letter sent to the BBC director general Tony Hall, along with two Labour colleagues and many Conservative politicians, which was critical of the BBC for running stories they believed were biased against Brexit.[24] Since then she has continued to criticise the BBC, accusing them of being "embittered remainers" who were "taking delight" in "undermining our country". Fellow Labour MP Wes Streeting responded that it was Orwellian to expect broadcasters to "act as cheerleaders for the government".[25]

During an interview on BBC Radio 4's “Today” programme, in November 2017, Hoey commented that the Irish border problem – how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, post-Brexit, whilst avoiding a border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK – would be solved if the Republic of Ireland also left the EU. Addressing Senator Neale Richmond, Fine Gael Spokesperson on European Affairs in the Senate of the Republic of Ireland, Hoey said: "We joined the EU together, you joined when we joined, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if we leave and when we are very successful that you don’t start thinking about leaving as well".[26]

Hoey attracted criticism again from within the Labour Party and from Irish political figures in February 2018 after she described the Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, as "unsustainable". These comments followed similar remarks by the Conservative politicians Daniel Hannan and Owen Paterson, who, like Hoey, favour a so-called "Hard Brexit" or "Clean Brexit". Simon Coveney, Ireland's Tánaiste (deputy head of government) and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade condemned the comments as "not only irresponsible but reckless". Owen Smith, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said the remarks by Hannan, Paterson and Hoey were a "concerted, transparent effort to undermine the GFA...driven by their blind, misplaced faith in Brexit" and was "reckless & utterly wrong".[27]

In July 2018 Hoey criticised Jo Swinson MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, for not voting in the parliamentary debate on the customs union amendment. This was despite Swinson being on maternity leave and having a formal pairing arrangement with the Conservative Party Chairman, Brandon Lewis (an arrangement which he broke under instruction from the Chief Whip and which led to calls for both Lewis and the Chief Whip to resign).[28]

On 17 July 2018, Hoey was one of five Labour MPs who defied the Labour whip to vote with the government on a Brexit amendment, which, if passed, would have required the UK to remain a member of a customs union with the EU in the event of no other arrangements on free trade and no arrangements for no hard border in Ireland, which otherwise the government would have lost possibly bringing it down. The government was against this amendment. Hoey, along with five other Labour MPs who supported Brexit, voted with the government against the amendment. [29][30] A few days later her Constituency Labour Party members passed a motion calling for the Labour whip to be withdrawn from Hoey and for her to become ineligible to be a future Labour party parliamentary candidate.[31]

Other interests[edit]

Hoey in 2010, at the launch of the Blue Badge 2012 Guided Tours for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Hoey is known for her objection to the Labour Government's ban of fox hunting: a rare position among Labour MPs.[32]

On 22 July 2005, Hoey was named the new chairman of the Countryside Alliance (a British group known for its pro-hunting stance).[33] She said the appointment was a "great honour and a great challenge". The Alliance's headquarters are in Hoey's Vauxhall constituency.[34] This appointment was controversial in the Labour Party as the Countryside Alliance was seen to be behind a campaign to unseat Labour MPs at the 2005 election. Hoey stepped down in 2015 saying "I am sad to be resigning after more than 9 years as Chairman of the Countryside Alliance. The organisation has achieved much in that time, but I will always be most proud that having joined when hunting faced such uncertainty, I leave with new generations queuing up to join the hunting field."[35]

Hoey is patron of Roots & Shoots, a vocational training centre for young people in Lambeth.[36]

Hoey has been a trustee of the Outward Bound charity since October 2002.[37] A Vice-President of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, Hoey is a strong supporter of the women's national team and the work of the charity.

In October 2013, Hoey was fined £240 for driving through a red light having previously criticised cyclists as "Lycra louts that run red lights".[38][39] Hoey wants all cyclists to pay tax[38] and be registered so they have a registration number:

Government and parliamentary positions[edit]

  • Opposition spokesperson, citizen's charter and women (1992–1993)
  • PPS to Frank Field, Department of Social Security (1997–1998)
  • Junior minister, home office (1998–1999)
  • Junior minister, department of culture, media and sport (1999–2001)


  1. ^ a b "New Minister brings her sporty spark into the game of politics". The Irish Times. 7 August 1999. Retrieved 14 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Interview: Kate Hoey". The Guardian. 30 April 2001. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Kate Hoey". politics.co.uk.
  4. ^ "Northern Irish Championships". gbrathletics.com. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  5. ^ McDonald, Ruth (19 March 2007). "BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  6. ^ "Martha Osamor: unsung hero of Britain's black struggle - Institute of Race Relations". www.irr.org.uk.
  7. ^ Rye, Danny (2014). Political Parties and the Concept of Power: A Theoretical Famework. Basingstoke, Hants: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 92.
  8. ^ "The Public Whip website". Publicwhip.org.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  9. ^ a b Sapsted, David (2 January 2001). "Hoey criticises ban on handguns". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  10. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 Jan 2008 (pt 0022)". Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  11. ^ "Blair pressed on Zimbabwe stance". BBC. 16 June 2005. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  12. ^ "Zimbabwe threatens to jail Hoey for 'sneak' trip". The Daily Telegraph. 7 October 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  13. ^ Summerskill, Ben (24 March 2010). "Gay-friendly? MPs lag behind Britain". The Guardian. London.
  14. ^ "MP-by-MP: Gay marriage vote". BBC News. 5 February 2013.
  15. ^ "Labour Hoey would help Tory mayor", BBC News, 29 April 2008. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  16. ^ Hart, Simon (4 May 2008). "Fury over role for Kate Hoey". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  17. ^ Jones, Sam (30 April 2008). "Labour MP denies defection in mayoral campaign". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
  18. ^ -Hoey, Kate (9 October 2015). "Labour MP Kate Hoey: Why leaving the EU is a left-wing move". The Independent. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  19. ^ Hughes, Laura (5 February 2016). "Kate Hoey quits Brexit group after leadership row". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  20. ^ Sims, Alexandra (21 February 2017). "George Galloway compares relationship with Nigel Farage to Churchill and Stalin". The Independent. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  21. ^ "How the United Kingdom voted on Thursday... and why – Lord Ashcroft Polls". lordashcroftpolls.com. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  22. ^ Franklin, Will; Holder, Josh; Osborn, Matt; Clarke, Sean; Kommenda, Niko; Franklin, Will; Holder, Josh; Osborn, Matt; Clarke, Sean (23 June 2016). "EU referendum full results – find out how your area voted". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  23. ^ Murphy, Joe (27 February 2017). "Brexit MP Kate Hoey denounced by her own constituency party". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  24. ^ Cowburn, Ashley (21 March 2017). "BBC accused of Brexit bias by more than 70 MPs in open letter". The Independent. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
  25. ^ "Brexit-backing Labour MP Kate Hoey sparks row with 'Orwellian' BBC criticism". London Evening Standard.
  26. ^ BBC Radio 4, “Today” programme, Monday 27 November 2017, beginning at 2hrs 41ʹ48ʺ into the programme)
  27. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa (20 February 2018). "Ireland condemns Kate Hoey's 'reckless' Good Friday agreement remarks". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  28. ^ "If Jo Swinson Could Attend Anti-Trump Rally She Could Have Voted, Says Kate Hoey". HuffPost UK. 20 July 2018.
  29. ^ Kinchen, Rosie (22 July 2018). "Kate Hoey, the Labour MP who saved the Tories". Sunday Times. London. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  30. ^ Syal, Rajeev (18 July 2018). "Kate Hoey under pressure from Labour after siding with Tories". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  31. ^ Schofield, Kevin (27 July 2018). "Kate Hoey facing deselection after Labour activists pass 'no confidence' motion over Brexit stance". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  32. ^ Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster (15 September 2004). "Hansard text". Parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  33. ^ "Our structure". Countryside Alliance. Archived from the original on 2012-06-18.
  34. ^ "Western Mail & Echo". Icwales.icnetwork.co.uk. 31 October 2006. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  35. ^ "Kate Hoey MP to step down as Alliance Chairman" (Press release). Countryside Alliance. 24 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2018-07-30. Retrieved 30 July 2018.
  36. ^ "Roots and Shoots". rootsandshoots.org.uk.
  37. ^ The Outward Bound Trust, Marketing and Communications. "Outward Bound website". Outwardbound.org.uk. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  38. ^ a b c Walker, Peter (2 November 2013). "Kate Hoey: the MP who thinks cyclists should be registered (and pay road tax)". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  39. ^ "Labour MP who called cyclists 'law-breakers' busted for running a red". BikeBiz. 30 October 2013. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Stuart Holland
Member of Parliament for Vauxhall
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Banks
Minister for Sport
Succeeded by
Richard Caborn