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  1. ITV Report

Cumbrian MP's prickly hedgehog speech 'one of the best'

Rory Stewart has been involved in a prickly debate. Credit: PA

Cumbrian MP Rory Stewart was involved in a prickly debate in the House of Commons yesterday, when he rejected a suggestion to make a hedgehog Britain's national symbol.

The Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border said the animal isn't suitable because it rolls into a ball when confronted with danger, and sleeps for half of the year.

In a speech that began in Latin, and referenced Aristotle, he described the hedgehog as a "magical creature" that appeared "bent backwards on the prow of Egyptian ships" and had been "celebrated by Shakespeare".

MPs and onlookers struggled to stifle giggles as he went on to debunk misconceptions it had faced from ancient philosophers, scholars and governments.

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing described it as "one of the best speeches I have ever heard".

Rory Stewart was challenging MP Oliver Colvile's wish for the hedgehog to become Britain's national symbol, to help with conservation efforts:

I ask you, madam Deputy Speaker, I ask both sides of this House because this is not a question that concerns only one party but all of us - do we want to have as our national symbol an animal which, when confronted with danger, rolls over into a little ball and puts its spikes up?

Do we want to have as our national symbol an animal that sleeps for six months of the year?

Or would we rather return to the animal that is already our national symbol?

I refer of course to the lion: majestic, courageous, proud."

– Rory Stewart MP