Who will replace Speaker John Bercow? All the candidates and how election works

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The race to succeed John Bercow as Commons Speaker has got under way as MPs jostle for the treasured title.

Current deputy Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the favourite while Labour grandee Harriet Harman is bidding to become only the second woman to hold the post.

It comes after Mr Bercow – regularly accused of anti-Brexit bias but hailed as a hero of Parliament by his fans – finally announced he will bow out after 10 years.

The Speaker wept as he announced he would quit on October 31 in a declaration watched by his wife Sally.

The timing of his resignation is no coincidence. It means the election to replace him is likely to come before a general election, allowing the current Parliament – not a new one – to choose his replacement.

 

John Bercow emotionally said he would be standing down

 

That is important because it means a group of MPs who are against a hard, no-deal Brexit will be choosing the next person to oversee the legislature.

So how will the election work and who is running? Heres everything you need to know.

How does the election work?

Boris Johnson with outgoing Commons Speaker John Bercow

MPs would normally be expected to vote for a new Speaker on Monday 4 November – the first sitting day after John Bercow quits.

Candidates must submit their nomination papers, signed by at least 12 MPs from at three parties, to Commons authorities between 9.30am and 10.30am on the day of the election.

Names of all the approved candidates are then published at 11am before a snap hustings in the Commons chamber at 2.30pm – consisting of a speech from each hopeful.

MPs will then be given half an hour to vote for their favourite candidate on a ballot paper.

If no single candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the lowest-ranked candidate (along with anyone who won less than 5%) is eliminated and there is another round of voting.

This continues until one candidate has won more than 50% of the total votes from MPs.

A motion is then put to the Commons proposing the winner as Speaker. It can go to a vote again but by this point, they are likely to win. Traditionally the Speaker is “dragged” to the grand seat, supposedly against their will.

Confirmed candidates

Lindsay Hoyle

Labour, Chorley, age 62. Odds: 1/1

Lindsay Hoyle – currently one of three deputy speakers – is a favourite for the job

The Lancashire-born businessman went to private Lord’s College in Bolton and ran his own screen-printing firm before becoming an MP in 1997.

He has been a Deputy Speaker for nine years where his no-nonsense manner led to clashes with MPs – including telling off the SNP for singing EU anthem Ode to Joy in 2017.

In the same week he had a fierce clash with ex-SNP leader Alex Salmond, with the pair shouting at each other across the chamber over time slots given to Brexit scrutiny.

Despite this Mr Hoyle is generally regarded as a popular figure. There was an outpouring of tributes in 2017 when his 28-year-old daughter Natalie was found dead. An inquest recorded an open verdict.

Mr Hoyle was one of just three Labour MPs who did not declare their voting intention in the 2016 EU referendum. His Lancashire district backed Brexit by 57% to 43%.

Harriet Harman

Labour, Camberwell & Peckham, age 69. Odds:  6/4

Harriet Harman is the definition of a veteran MP

As Westminster’s longest-serving female MP, the QC is known as the Mother of the House with 37 years’ unbroken service.

She spent more than two decades on the Labour front bench including as Deputy Labour Leader, Tony Blair’s first Minister for Women and Leader of the House of Commons. 

Born in London and educated at private St Paul’s Girls’ School, Ms Harman worked for the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) before becoming an MP in 1982. Following a torrent of stories in the Daily Mail, she later said she “regretted” the NCCL’s decision to grant affiliate status to a pro-paedophile group before she joined the staff.

When she was elected barely 100 women had served in the Commons in its history. Her decades of activism for women’s rights led to mockery from right-wing pundits, including when she toured a pink bus round the country in 2015.

Her four-month stint as acting Labour leader, before Jeremy Corbyn took power, was marked by her decision not to oppose cruel Tory tax credit cuts that were later scrapped.

Other controversies included being banned from driving in 2004 after she was caught speeding at 99mph on the M4. While in government she also tried to block the release of detailed Parliamentary expenses data.

Due to her long experience and cross-party reputation, her name has been put forward as a possible caretaker Prime Minister if the government loses a no confidence vote.

Ms Harman was a prominent Remain-backer in 2016 and though she has promised to be “scrupulously neutral” on Brexit, she has also warned she will be “a champion for Parliament” if elected.

Dame Eleanor Laing

Conservative, Epping Forest, age 61. Odds:  8/1

Eleanor Laing
Eleanor Laing is a former solicitor and Special Advisor

The privately-educated solicitor from Paisley has spent six of her 22 years in Parliament as a Deputy Speaker, meaning she did not declare how she voted in the 2016 EU referendum.

She was a Special Advisor during the Thatcher and Major governments, and after her 1997 election was an early Tory backer of equalising the age of consent at 16 for gay men.

But she attracted controversy in 2016 when she allegedly criticised a pregnant MP for leaving a debate to eat.

She also “voluntarily” repaid £25,000 during the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal over claims relating to a second home.

Announcing her candidacy, she said the next Speaker should “definitely” be a woman as people need a “breath of fresh air” in Parliament.

Meg Hillier

Labour, Hackney South & Shoreditch, age 50. Odds:  8/1

Meg Hillier as the hard-bitten chair of the powerful Public Accounts Committee

The privately-schooled former journalist and councillor served on the London Assembly before her election in 2005.

As Gordon Brown’s Identity Minister she was tasked with promoting the failed ID card scheme – but was left red-faced in 2009 when forgetting her own ID card at a photoshoot.

She later served as Shadow Energy Secretary under Ed Miliband before rising to prominence as the hard-bitten chair of the powerful Public Accounts Committee.

Pro-EU Ms Hillier voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, voted against triggering Article 50 in 2017, and earlier this year said Parliament should “seriously consider” delaying or revoking Article 50 to cancel Brexit.

Chris Bryant

Labour, Rhondda, age 57. Odds:  10/1

Chris Bryant speaking after he discovered he had cancer

The privately-schooled former Church of England vicar dabbled with Conservatism as a student, before leaving the priesthood in 1991 when he realised other members of the church believed the “Bible doesn’t really like gays”.

He moved to London and rose through the ranks of the capital’s Labour groups through the 1990s before his election to Parliament in 2001.

He shot to prominence soon afterwards for his role exposing wrongdoing in the press, including extracting a confession by then-Sun editor Rebekah Wade in 2003 that the paper had “paid the police for information in the past.”

He has become an outspoken voice on skin cancer after discovering he had melanoma on a trip to the barber.

The MP voted Remain in the 2016 referendum and said the “whole country should have a chance” to hold a second referendum on Brexit.

Sir Edward Leigh

Conservative, Gainsborough, age 69. Odds:  Not available

Sir Edward Leigh is one of the few ardent Brexiteers on the list

The privately-educated veteran MP since 1983 has only an outside chance due to his tub-thumping backing for Brexit.

He has highly conservative views on social issues including backing the anti-gay Section 28 and voting against civil partnerships.

Briefly a junior minister under John Major, the MP has spent all but three of his 36 years in Parliament as a backbencher including on the trade, procedure and parliamentary restoration committees.

Sir Henry Bellingham

Conservative, North West Norfolk, age 64. Odds:  Not available

Henry Bellingham
Henry Bellingham has only an outside chance of winning the top job

The Old Etonian Leave-backer was elected as an MP in 2001 after a career as a barrister.

He spent a decade on the Tory front bench but never rose to the rank of Cabinet or shadow cabinet.

Announcing his bid, he said the Speaker must show “respect” to all MPs, admitting “people might accuse me of being an establishment figure” but adding: “I’m not one of the inner core in the Speaker’s office.”

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Considering running

Dame Rosie Winterton

Labour, Doncaster Central, age 61. Odds:  7/1

Shadow Chief Whip Rosie Winterton
Rosie Winterton was Labour’s Chief Whip through six tumultuous years

The privately-educated MP began her career as John Prescott’s assistant in the 1980s before her election to Parliament in 1997.

She spent almost a decade on Labour’s front bench under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown before becoming the party’s Chief Whip in 2010.

Her six years in the top job presided over a tumultuous time in the party when more than 170 Labour MPs voted no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn but he refused to quit.

Before becoming a deputy speaker in 2017, which bound her to rules of impartiality, Dame Rosie voted Remain in the EU referendum but said it was important to “respect” the nation’s vote to leave – including in her Doncaster seat.

As of September 10 it is understood she is still considering whether to run.

Pete Wishart

SNP, Perth & North Perthshire, age 57. Odds:  Not available

Pete Wishart played in folk-rock band Runrig

As the only candidate who didn’t attend a private school, and the only one to play in cult Scottish band Runrig, the MP since 2001 cuts a somewhat different figure to other candidates.

He is the longest-serving SNP MP including as the party’s Westminster leader.

The MP voted Remain in 2016 and has called for MPs to revoke Article 50 to halt a Tory Brexit.

He said earlier this year that he would like to run for Speaker.

Ruled themselves out: Charles Walker

Odds retrieved on September 10 from Betway.

 



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