The Baroness Hoey
|Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee|
15 May 2019 – 12 June 2019
|Preceded by||Andrew Murrison|
|Succeeded by||Simon Hoare|
|Minister for Sport|
20 October 1999 – 7 June 2001
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||Tony Banks|
|Succeeded by||Richard Caborn|
|Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs|
28 July 1998 – 29 July 1999
|Prime Minister||Tony Blair|
|Preceded by||The Lord Williams of Mostyn|
|Succeeded by||The Lord Bassam of Brighton|
|Member of the House of Lords|
|Assumed office |
13 October 2020
|Member of Parliament |
15 June 1989 – 6 November 2019
|Preceded by||Stuart Holland|
|Succeeded by||Florence Eshalomi|
|Born||21 June 1946|
Mallusk, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
|Political party||Non-affiliated (2020–present)|
Labour (before 2019)
|Alma mater||University of Ulster |
London Guildhall University
Catharine Letitia Hoey, Baroness Hoey (born 21 June 1946), known as Kate Hoey, is a Northern Irish politician and life peer who served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Home Affairs from 1998 to 1999 and Minister for Sport from 1999 to 2001. A former member of the Labour Party, she was Member of Parliament (MP) for Vauxhall from 1989 to 2019.
Hoey was born in Mallusk, County Antrim, and studied at Belfast Royal Academy and the Ulster College of Physical Education. She has a degree in Economics earned at London Guildhall University, and was a Vice-President of the National Union of Students.
Hoey has a longstanding interest in sport. She was the 1966 Northern Ireland high jump champion and has worked for football clubs including: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers, Chelsea and Brentford, as an educational advisor. Before entering Parliament, she was educational adviser to Arsenal FC 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 in 2007 with Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez.
Hoey was one of the early members of the Newtownabbey Labour Party during the mid-1970s which left its parent organisation, the Northern Ireland Labour Party, in 1974. Prior to being a member of the British Labour Party, Hoey was a member of the International Marxist Group, whose policies included support for a united Ireland. As a member of Labour she 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, 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.
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 has often rebelled against her party. She was a prominent critic of the ban on handguns and, in an interview in Sporting Gun magazine, voiced her support for fox hunting. She has voted against Labour government policy on the war in Iraq, foundation hospitals, Trident, 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. Hoey 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 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. The Zimbabwean government threatened to jail her if she repeated her "sneak" visit.
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. The announcement was controversial both because Hoey had once said of London's Olympic bid "we don't deserve it and Paris does" and because it could have been perceived as endorsing an election candidate from a rival party.
Hoey nominated John McDonnell for the Labour leadership election of 2010, but on his withdrawal, she switched her nomination to Diane Abbott. However, she voted for Andy Burnham, 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.
In 2010, Hoey was described as "the least gay-friendly of all Labour MPs" by the chief executive of Stonewall. However, she voted in favour of same-sex marriage in 2013.
Hoey sparked criticism in 2017 after it emerged she had liked a swastika-emblazoned Pride flag on Twitter. She stated that the tweet was “liked in error” and later apologised.
In March 2019, Hoey abstained on a vote to allow LGBT+ inclusive education in schools. When asked why by Vice News, she stated that it was "going to pass anyway".
In July 2019, she was the only Labour MP to have voted against allowing abortion and same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Hoey advocated the United Kingdom should leave the European Union 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. She later extended these views characterising the EU as a "part of the global movement to remove democratic resistance to capitalism" and as fascism in a Heat Street/blog article that was after the EU referendum deleted from her blog.
Originally active in Labour Leave as a co-chair, Hoey resigned in February 2016 following internal disagreements. Soon afterwards, she became active in Grassroots Out, along with then-UKIP leader Nigel Farage and George Galloway, then-leader of the Respect Party. In her Vauxhall constituency, an estimated 78% voted to remain in the EU. Her Constituency Labour Party (CLP) stated in February 2017 that she was insufficiently opposing Conservative government policy on child refugees and the residency rights of EU nationals after the UK leaves.
In the following month, Hoey was one of seventy parliamentary signatories to a letter sent to the BBC Director-General, Lord Hall of Birkenhead, along with two Labour colleagues and many Conservative politicians, which was critical of the BBC for running stories biased against Brexit. 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".
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 Seanad Éireann, 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".
Hoey attracted criticism again from within the Labour Party and from Irish political figures in February 2018 after she said the Good Friday Agreement was "not sustainable in the long term". These comments followed similar remarks by Eurosceptic Conservative politicians Daniel Hannan and Owen Paterson. Simon Coveney, the Republic of 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 and utterly wrong".
On 17 July 2018, Hoey was one of five Labour MPs who defied the Labour whip in order 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. The UK Government was against this amendment, but would have lost the vote without Hoey and the other Labour rebels, who possibly saved the Government from defeat. 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.
On 8 July 2019 Hoey announced that she would retire from the House of Commons, and would not seek re-election as a Labour candidate at the next general election.
On 3 September 2019, Hoey and John Mann were the only Labour MPs to vote with the Government in an attempt to prevent MPs from taking control of the house in an attempt to block a potential no deal Brexit. In November 2019, Hoey said that she would be voting for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in the December general election in Northern Ireland. She also endorsed the Conservative Party and Boris Johnson stating that Labour 'would not keep faith with the British people'.
In July 2020, Hoey was nominated for a life peerage in the House of Lords in the 2019 Dissolution Honours and was created Baroness Hoey, of Lylehill and Rathlin in the County of Antrim, on 14 September 2020.
Hoey is known for her objection to the Labour Government's ban of fox hunting: a rare position among Labour MPs. On 22 July 2005, she was named the new chairman of the Countryside Alliance (a British group known for its pro-hunting stance). She said the appointment was a "great honour and a great challenge". The Alliance's headquarters are in Hoey's Vauxhall constituency. 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 nine 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."
Hoey is patron of Roots & Shoots, a vocational training centre for young people in Lambeth.
Hoey has been a trustee of the Outward Bound charity since October 2002.
A vice-president of the Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Association, Hoey is a supporter of the women's national team and the work of the charity.
In December 2018 she became patron of the Professional Paralegal Register.
In October 2013, Hoey was fined £240 for driving through a red light having previously criticised cyclists as "Lycra louts that run red lights". Hoey wants all cyclists to pay tax and be registered so they have a registration number:
What I do genuinely think, and the cycling lobby should argue for it too, is that everyone who rides a bicycle, particularly as a form of transport to work, should be registered, so their bike has a registration number. At the moment if someone does knock down an old lady and rides off no one can trace that person.