4 November 2019 | UK NEWS
The House of Commons has tonight elected Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the (now former) Labour MP for Chorley, as the replacement for John Bercow, who resigned as Speaker last Thursday and – it was confirmed this morning – is no longer an MP. Sir Lindsay – who had been Deputy Speaker up to now – has been an MP since the 1997 General Election. Because all Speakers are expected to be impartial, Sir Lindsay will now have to resign the Labour whip.
While he had been considered the favourite to win the election for the Speakership for some time, today’s four rounds of voting nonetheless produced some interesting results. Harriet Harman pulled out after the second round of voting, having gained 59 votes (down from 72 in the first round). This left a third-round contest between Sir Lindsay (Labour), Chris Bryant (Labour) and Eleanor Laing (Conservative).
Laing was eliminated following the third round, leaving a fourth-round contest to be decided between two Labour candidates. Sir Lindsay gained the Speakership by 325 votes to 213 for Bryant. This meant that the final race was between two Labour candidates, although given that John Bercow had been a Conservative MP prior to his election as Speaker in 2009, and the long-standing convention that the Speakership should alternate between the two main parties, this should not be overly surprising.
Upon taking the Chair, Sir Lindsay addressed the House as is customary, saying: “I want to hopefully show that the experience I’ve shown previously will continue. As I’ve promised, I will be neutral, I will be transparent.” Referring to his earlier comments that the House should be considered “once again a great respected House, not just in here but across the world”, he added that: “It’s the envy, and we’ve got to make sure that tarnish is polished away, that the respect and tolerance that we expect from everyone who works in here will be shown and we’ll keep that in order.”
Sir Lindsay was also quick to stamp his authority on the House (albeit jovially), reminding some Members who had been applauding his accession as he was customarily dragged to the Chair that clapping was not, by convention, permitted in the Commons while the House is sitting. The Speaker-elect then invited the Prime Minister to make a statement, whereupon Boris Johnson told the House that he was certain the new Speaker would “stick up” for backbenchers.
The PM further added: “But I believe you will also bring your signature kindness, kindness and reasonableness, to our proceedings, and thereby to help to bring us together as a Parliament and a democracy. Because no matter how fiercely we may disagree, we know that every member comes to this place with the best of motives, determined to solve, to serve, the oldest Parliamentary democracy in the world. And to achieve our goals by the peaceable arts of reason and debate invigilated by an impartial Speaker, which was and remains one of our greatest gifts to the world.”
The House of Commons is due to be dissolved tomorrow to allow the official General Election campaigns to begin. We will bring you further updates on these as they develop.