Who could replace John Bercow as Speaker and how is a successor chosen?

John Bercow, the Commons Speaker who is as colourful as he is commanding, is to take his final seat in the chair where he has berated unruly MPs for more than 10 years.

The former Tory will also step down as MP for Buckingham where he was first elected more than two decades ago.

With the search for a replacement afoot, here is a look at what the Speaker’s role is and who may be next in line to the big green chair.

John Bercow
Mr Bercow after winning the ballot to become Speaker in 2009 (House of Commons/PA)

– What exactly does the Speaker do?

More than just yell “orderrrrrr” at rowdy politicians.

As well as maintaining discipline in the House, the Speaker is an MP who chairs debates between their colleagues.

They must remain politically impartial at all times.

Mr Bercow has been accused of falling foul of this over the years, particularly by Conservatives.

He has also received praise for empowering backbenchers – though not from the governments trying and failing to force through Brexit legislation.

– How will his successor be selected?

Mr Bercow’s replacement will be chosen on Monday during what is likely to be a day of drama.

Candidates will hand their nominations over to the Commons Table Office in the morning, having secured the backing of at least 12 MPs, including three from a different party.

A list of the nominees will go live on the Parliament website at around 11am, before MPs file into the Commons for 2.30pm to hear speeches delivered by each candidate.

Then the voting begins.

Each MP is handed a ballot paper and has 30 minutes to make their selection – in secret. Who voted for who will not be revealed.

If a candidate gets more than half the votes then they are automatically elected.

But, if not, any candidate with less than 5% of the votes or the candidate who comes last will be eliminated.

The process will then be repeated until someone secures more than half the votes, or one candidate remains if competitors drop out.

A motion is then put to the House suggesting the selected MP as Speaker and, if agreed, the winner will take to the all-important chair.

– And who is vying for the Speaker’s throne?

Chris Bryant
Labour former minister Chris Bryant has shown interest in the role (PA)

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, 62, is currently Deputy Commons Speaker. The Labour MP for Chorley is a popular and experienced figure in the House, having first been elected in the constituency in 1997.

Dame Eleanor Laing, 61, also serves as Deputy Speaker. She has been a Tory MP for Epping Forest since 1997. Dame Eleanor is well-liked and respected across the House and has guided proceedings while deputising.

Harriet Harman, 69, a former interim and deputy Labour leader. Ms Harman, who first became an MP in 1982, is also a former leader of the Commons. She commands a great deal of respect from across party lines. As Mother of the House – the longest continuously-serving women MP- her experience stands her in good stead.

When we return to Parliament after this disgraceful prorogation I will be suppporting @HarrietHarman as our next speaker. Harriet is not afraid to speak truth to power and will modernise our politics. We’ve had just one woman speaker in more than 600 years – time for the second.

— Rachel Reeves (@RachelReevesMP) September 9, 2019

Sir Edward Leigh, 69, has been a Tory MP since 1983. An outspoken figure on the back benches, Sir Edward has championed Brexit and opposed the idea of a second referendum on leaving the EU.

Sir Henry Bellingham, 64, was first elected as a Tory MP in 1983. Sir Henry said the next Speaker needs to be firm, but not “rude”.

Meg Hillier, 50, is the Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch. She has previously served as shadow energy secretary.

Chris Bryant, 57, is a Labour MP who has previously been shadow and deputy leader of the Commons. He has previously spoken in favour of a second referendum on Brexit.

Pete Wishart
Pete Wishart is a founder member of parliamentary rock band MP4 (PA)

Dame Rosie Winterton has been a Labour MP since 1997. The 61-year-old has previously been shadow leader of the Commons and has held many ministerial positions, including in transport, health and regional affairs.

Shailesh Vara is a member of the hardline band of Tory Brexiteers, the European Research Group. The 59-year-old has held the North West Cambridgeshire constituency since 2005. He has held several junior government roles and had a brief spell as a minister of state at the Northern Ireland Office last year.

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