Applause for 'bionic MP' returning to Parliament

Media caption,

Cheers for MP recovering from sepsis

  • Published

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay received a rare and prolonged standing ovation from his fellow MPs as he returned to Parliament for the first time since his hands and feet were amputated following a life-threatening episode of sepsis.

Clapping is usually banned in the Commons chamber, but Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he was happy to allow it, calling the South Thanet MP an inspiration.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed his sentiments and said no one could “fail to be in awe of his incredible resilience”.

Mr Mackinlay thanked his parliamentary colleagues and jokingly apologised for being the cause of the rule-breaking applause.

Speaking to the BBC ahead of his return, Mr Mackinlay said he aspired to become known as the "bionic MP".

He used his question at Prime Minister's Questions to call for improved recognition of the early signs of sepsis and the better provision of appropriate prosthetics to amputees.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who shook Mr Mackinlay’s hand as he arrived in the House of Commons, paid tribute to his “courage and determination”.

Mr Mackinlay was given just a 5% chance of survival after falling severely ill in September of last year.

He was put in to an induced coma which lasted 16 days and woke to find parts of his arms and legs had turned completely black.

Eight months after falling ill, Mr Mackinlay began his day back by meeting Sir Lindsay, alongside his wife Kati and daughter Olivia

Mr Mackinlay said it would be an emotional day and that he was looking forward to "getting back in the saddle".

He added that he would have to find "a myriad of new routes" to get around the building with his four new prosthetic limbs.

He also praised the parliamentary authorities who he said had been in regular contact to discuss his return to Westminster.

'Plastic feet'

After his meeting with Sir Lindsay, Mr Mackinlay headed to the House of Commons, where MPs interrupted questions to the science minister with loud claps and cheers.

On being selected to ask a question at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Mackinlay received further applause.

He began by apologising for his clothing, explaining that trainers were the only shoes that would fit on his "plastic feet" and that he could not fit his jacket over his new arms.

The MP thanked Mr Sunak who he said had "been with me throughout".

"He has been to see me multiple times, and to me that shows the true depth of the character of the prime minister."

He also paid tribute to his family and NHS staff - some of whom were in the visitors' gallery - saying they had taken him from being "close to death to where I am today".

However, he also joked that he wasn't quite so pleased to see the two surgeons who had removed parts of his limbs.

Media caption,

Kati Mackinlay: I knew Craig was 'hearing me' in hospital

Addressing the prime minister, he asked the government to "ensure that we embed recognition of early signs of sepsis".

"It wouldn't have worked for me, mine was too quick and too sudden, but for many people they do get a few days. If we can stop somebody ending up like this, I would say that is a job well done."

He also urged health ministers to ensure the "provision of appropriate prosthetics" on the NHS.

Mr Sunak replied that ministers were "working hard to raise awareness" of sepsis.

"Without getting into all the details I will just say that he is right, the NHS itself has recognised this morning that more needs to be done, and I can assure him that we will do that."


Throughout the question session, leaders of opposition parties welcomed back Mr Mackinlay.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said he was "truly an inspiration", while Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said he admired Mr Mackinlay's "courage".

Earlier in the day, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson describe Mr Mackinlay as "a great man who has shown fantastic courage" adding: "Great news that he is back in parliament today!"

Mr Mackinlay has said he intends to stand again in the general election in his constituency, due to be renamed Thanet East.

Polly Billington, who will be his Labour opponent in the election, sent her "heartfelt sympathy".

"I know Craig is a battler and he has proved it by his survival of this awful ordeal."