In Brief

Who will replace John Bercow as speaker?

Seven candidates battling to keep order

MPs will vote in a secret ballot today to elect a new Commons speaker after John Bercow last week ended his decade-long stint in the chair.

Prospective candidates for the role were required to hand in a nomination form by 10.30am today that must be signed between 12 and 15 MPs, including three from a different party.

The Commons convenes at 2.30pm to hear candidates each make five-minute pitches, before MPs are given 20 minutes to cast their votes, says The Telegraph.

However, some candidates have questioned the legitimacy of the ballot, pointing out that many MPs are away in their constituencies on the campaign trail, adds The Times.

The bookies’ favourite to become the next speaker is Labour’s Lindsay Hoyle at 1/10, followed by Harriet Harman and Eleanor Laing in joint second place on 16/1.

The winning candidate will have to drop their party affiliation to take the role, in order to meet impartiality requirements.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara dropped out of the race this morning, saying that he did not “have the numbers to win”.

“I am withdrawing from the contest and will support Lindsay Hoyle MP. Thanks again to those who supported me,” Vara tweeted.

So who are the remaining candidates hoping to keep order?

Lindsay Hoyle

Labour MP and knight of the realm Hoyle has been a deputy speaker since 2010 and is the bookies’ clear favourite to take the chair. He is the only candidate for speaker who has not declared which way they voted in the 2016 EU referendum, and his views on Brexit remain a closely guarded secret.

Harriet Harman

Former front-bencher Harman, who has twiced acted as Labour Party leader, is standing as a reformer who wants to make Parliament a better place to work, says The Guardian. The longest-serving female MP in the Commons, Harman has urged MPs to back her as speaker to prove that women over 60 aren’t “past it”, says The Telegraph.

Eleanor Laing

Laing has been a deputy speaker of the Commons since 2013, after taking on a number of shadow frontbench roles for the Conservatives in 2004 and 2005. The former shadow women’s and equality spokesperson sparked controversy recently when she said that breastfeeding in the Commons chamber during sittings was “not necessary”.

Chris Bryant

Former Anglican vicar Bryant held junior ministerial posts during Gordon Brown’s reign as prime minister, before taking on roles as shadow culture secretary and shadow Commons leader. An MP and Commons procedure geek, Bryant has written a two-volume history of Parliament and pledged to be neutral as speaker while increasing the power of MPs.

Meg Hillier

Hillier has been a Labour MP since 2005 and has demonstrated her cross-party cooperation credentials as chair of the influential Public Accounts Committee. A former councillor and member of the London Assembly, Hillier has three years as a Labour minister under her belt.

Edward Leigh

A Conservative MP since 1983, Leigh has parliamentary pedigree. He worked in Margaret Thatcher’s private office when she was in opposition and later served as chair of the Public Accounts Committee for nine years from 2001. Leigh considered running for speaker in 2010, but the committed Brexiteer has waited until now to contest the role.

Rosie Winterton

Winterton has been a Labour MP since the Blair landslide of 1997, and held four ministerial posts in the last Labour government before taking up the role of opposition chief whip between 2010 and 2016. She became a deputy speaker in 2017 and says that if elected speaker, she would “achieve a fair balance between the rights of the executive and the rights of Parliament”.

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