It was an absolutely scandalous day in British Parliament on Monday. During a heated session regarding an upcoming vote on Brexit, Brighton Kemptown Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle did the unthinkable: He grabbed the ceremonial mace, which is an ornate, large, golden metal staff that reportedly weighs 22 pounds. This was a big deal because the ceremonial mace in Parliament “is the symbol of royal authority and without it neither House can meet or pass laws,” and it is illegal for Parliament to meet if the mace is not in place.
A very British chaos erupted in the chambers, starting the moment that Moyle very purposefully strode toward the mace. As soon as Moyle placed his hands on the mace, Parliament let out polite but extremely dismayed groans. Speaker John Bercow can be heard first asking Moyle to “put it down, put it back” and muttering “no, no … no, no” with increasing urgency.
Moyle made it across the chambers before being stopped by other Parliament members, who promptly took the mace from his hands (Moyle did not put up a fight) and quickly walked it back to its altar at the front of the room. Here’s another really fantastic angle of Speaker Bercow sternly and dispassionately repeating the word “no” over and over again.
After the mace was safely secured back in its proper place, Moyle was expelled from Parliament for one day, which is the standard punishment for grabbing the mace. The last time anyone made such a grab was over a passionate disagreement about Heathrow Airport in 2009. That time, Labour Party MP John McDonnell was also suspended in a similarly dramatic event.
Moyle’s disdain about Brexit didn’t end after the mace-grabbing. He continued to rail against Prime Minister Theresa May from outside the chambers. “I’m allowed back tomorrow after my symbolic protest against this government, wish May wasn’t allowed back,” wrote Moyle on Twitter about his suspension.