The race for Speaker of the House of Commons is in full flow. Here's what we know about the candidates.
In September John Bercow announced his intention to step down by 31 October as Speaker, a position he has held for over 10 years.
He made the statement in the wake of MPs voting to extend the Brexit deadline should there a deal not be agreed before the European Council meeting on 17 October. He said that if the House did not vote for an early election – which they didn’t – he felt “the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business on Thursday October 31.”
Bercow’s decision to step down at close of business 31 October is significant for two reasons. One, it will mean that he will be in the chair during a period where Brexit will continue to be the main issue debated and voted on in the chamber.
Secondly, because he will be standing down before an election, it means that the current parliament will decide the next Speaker, as opposed to a parliament with newer and possibly less well-informed MPs. It also means the three current deputy speakers will be able to stand before fighting an election, and they are.
Several MPs have announced their intention to seek election to the Chair, below we’ve outlined who they, their experience to date and the things they may change if elected Speaker.
Chris has been the Labour MP for Rhondda since the 2001 when he was first elected. He held various junior ministerial positions in Gordon Brown’s government including Deputy Leader of the House and Minister for Europe. He is now the chair for the Finance Committee whose role is to consider the expenditure on and administration of services for the House of Commons.
His stints in ministerial roles have been brief and he claims that his extended time on the backbenches means that he would stand up for them if he were elected Speaker. He has said his style would be to call on MPs based on their expertise in the subject being debated rather than by seniority; a similar system is deployed in the House of Lords.
Harriet Harman is the mother of the House, the title awarded to the longest continuous serving woman MP. She has 37 years’ unbroken service in the House of Commons. She has held a multitude of Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial positions and has twice been Acting Leader of the Opposition.
She has been a vocal activist throughout her career for women’s rights and is thought to be someone who will aim to make changes to Parliament to encourage more women to be involved in politics by running to become an MP.
Although she campaigned for and was in favour of remaining in the EU, and has very well-established Labour credentials, Harriet Harman has said that she will be scrupulously neutral as Speaker.
Meg Hillier has been the MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch since 2005. She was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Identity between 2007-10.
She served as Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change for a year between 2010-11. Currently she holds the position of Chair of the Public Accounts Committee; a committee designed to overseeing government expenditure and ensure they effective and transparent.
In the run up to the election for Speaker, Meg has stated that she believes the public has lost its trust in Parliament and she will aim to rebuild it. She has stated that she would take a zero-tolerance approach on bullying and harassment in Parliament.
In the Chair, Meg Hillier would extend PMQs to a full hour to allow backbenchers more time. She would focus on the Education Centre and outreach team to get young people more involved in Parliament when they might not normally have the opportunity.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Lindsay Hoyle was is the MP for Chorley, where he was born, after being elected in 1997. He has served as Deputy Speaker for nine years. He was the first person to be elected to this role rather than being nominated by the current Leader of the House.
Considered by many to be the front-runner in the race for Speaker having spent a lot of time in the chair, he has cited this experience and knowledge as reasons that he should be selected.
The areas he has promised to focus on if elected include: wellbeing for all working in Parliament – this includes actions on bullying and harassment, increasing provisions to hold the Speaker to account, and increase parliamentary engagement amongst groups of the population that are disadvantaged.
Dame Eleanor Laing
Dame Eleanor Laing, elected the Conservative MP for Epping Forest in 1997, has served as Deputy Speaker since 2013. During her time as an MP she held the positions of Shadow Minister for Women and Equality from 2004 to 2005 and was Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland for eight months during 2004.
Earlier in the year she announced her intention to run for Speaker once John Bercow stood down, and has since said, if she is elected, addressing the issues that persist in Parliament around bad behaviour and bullying will be a priority. She will also ensure that the role of the Speaker is impartial and that the reputation of Parliament is upheld.
Sir Edward Leigh
Edward Leigh became MP for Gainsborough in 1983 and has been re-elected at every election since. He is the ninth longest serving current MP. Aside from a stint as Under-Secretary at the Department for Trade and Industry from 1990-93 he has always been a backbencher.
He has said that he would look to be a more traditional Speaker than John Bercow. Stating that a quiet approach might be needed to let the recent changes in Parliament to settle in.
One of the few vocal opponents to the proposals to demolish part of Richmond House, currently part of the Restoration and Renewal plans in Parliament, he has said that he would put an end to it. He believes there are better and cheaper ways to go about the development plans.
Dame Rosie Winterton
First elected as MP for Doncaster Central in 1997, Rosie Winterton went on to hold Ministerial positions for Transport, Yorkshire and the Humber, Work and Pensions, and Local Government. She also served as Labour Chief Whip for six years from 2010.
She became one of three deputy speakers (all of which are running to become the next Speaker) on 27 June 2017. Rosie has cited her experience as a reason she would excel if elected.
Similar to many of the other candidates, Rosie Winterton has announced her intention to ensure that Parliament is safe and family friendly environment. She would also like to oversee as quick a turnaround as possible with the Restoration and Renewal project.