‘Bionic MP’ makes emotional return to the House of Commons after quadruple amputation

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay almost lost his life following a bout of sepsis

There were emotional scenes in the House of Commons on Wednesday as an MP who recently lost all four of his limbs to sepsis returned to the chamber to a rousing ovation from all sides.

Craig Mackinlay, the Conservative MP for South Thanet in Kent, had his forearms, hands, lower legs and his feet amputated in December after falling ill with a near-deadly bout of sepsis in September.

He has since been fitted with four prosthetic limbs, including mechanised hands, and has embraced his new nickname as the “bionic MP”.

While Westminster was gripped all morning by potential election fever, the usual tribal affiliations were temporarily set aside as Mr Mackinlay made his return to the Commons chamber just before noon, minutes in advance of the weekly prime minister’s questions set piece.

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He received a rousing reception. In a break with Commons tradition, MPs of all parties stood and clapped him for several minutes as Mr Mackinlay stood on the floor of the chamber and waved to all sides of the house with one of his new, metallic-grey prosthetic hands.

He took his seat in the front row of Tory MPs, just to the right of the government frontbenchers, wearing trainers because shoes would not fit over his prosthetic feet, and without the jacket usually required for male MPs, because its sleeves would not go over his new hands.

Mr Mackinlay’s wife, Kati Mackinlay, could be seen in the gallery overlooking the chamber. She cradled their four-year old daughter Olivia in her lap as the girl’s emotional father acknowledged them from below.

Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle welcomed Mr Mackinlay back to the Commons, describing him as “the man of the moment”. He said Mr Mackinlay was an inspiration for his recovery and joked that was the “only reason I allow clapping”, which is usually forbidden in the chamber.

Similar good wishes were expressed by prime minister Rishi Sunak and the Labour leader, Keir Starmer.

Towards the end of prime minister’s questions, Mr Mackinlay thanked staff of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) who had saved his life, sparking more clapping among MPs and also in the public gallery. “They took me from close to death to where I am today,” he said.

He recalled that the speaker had visited him in hospital, leading to medical staff joking if he had already called an undertaker, a reference to the formal black attire that is usually worn by the Commons speaker.

As it is customary at prime minister’s questions for MPs to ask the prime minister a direct question, Mr Mackinlay put it to Mr Sunak whether more could be done in the NHS to raise awareness of the early signs of sepsis. There were murmurs of approval from all sides as the prime minister said he agreed, before normal service was resumed and MPs went back to their usual partisan exchanges.

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