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UK MPs are set to vote on John Bercow's successor as Speaker - here's how the process works

Labour’s Lindsay Hoyle and Harriet Harman are among the favourites to take on the role of Speaker.

John Bercow's successor will be elected today.
John Bercow's successor will be elected today.
Image: House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

UK MPS ARE preparing to choose John Bercow’s successor in the first Speaker election in more than a decade.

Eight candidates are bidding to take on the role following Bercow’s departure, with the House of Commons business today dedicated to this election.

Deputy Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is among those strongly tipped to emerge victorious, with fellow Labour MP Harriet Harman – the current longest continuously serving female MP – also predicted to do well.

The other six candidates are Dame Rosie Winterton and Dame Eleanor Laing, who also both served as Mr Bercow’s deputies, Labour’s Meg Hillier and Chris Bryant, plus Conservatives Sir Edward Leigh and Shailesh Vara.

Candidates must submit their written nominations between 9.30am and 10.30am today, with their signed declaration needing to be supported by between 12 and 15 MPs.

The Commons will meet as normal at 2.30pm and each candidate will give a speech – the order decided by drawing lots. The Father of the House – the longest serving MP – Ken Clarke will chair the meeting. 

A secret ballot among MPs will take place once the speeches have concluded.

MPs can only vote for one candidate and the result will be announced in the chamber.

Any candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes will be proposed to the House as Speaker, although MPs will be asked to vote again if no candidate meets the threshold.

In the second round of voting, candidates who either came last or received fewer than 5% of the votes will not be on the ballot paper.

budget-2016 Lindsay Hoyle is the favourite to replace John Bercow as Speaker. Source: PA/PA Archive/PA Images

There is also a 10-minute period after each round for candidates to withdraw.

Ballots will continue until either one MP wins more than 50% of the votes or only one remains.

A motion is then put to the Commons proposing the winner as Speaker and they will take the chair if this is agreed. If not, a vote takes place.

Speeches of congratulation are expected to follow the votes.

Also watch out for the Speaker being dragged to the Chair by other MPs – the tradition dates back to the Speaker’s traditional role of communicating the House of Commons’ views to the monarch of the day. 

If the monarch didn’t agree with the message, then they may have ordered the execution of the Speaker. Hence, unlike today, it wasn’t seen as a particularly desirable role. 

Re-election

Whoever the new speaker is, they won’t be in the role for long before parliament dissolves on Wednesday ahead of the general election in December. 

If the new Speaker returns to the House of Commons following the election and is willing to be chosen as Speaker, then a majority of MPs will vote to return them to the Chair. 

If MPs vote against returning the incumbent Speaker, then another ballot can take place. However, this is unlikely to happen when parliament returns following the general election considering MPs just voted a new MP to the role. 

Whoever is elected is also nearly guaranteed to return to parliament because the main political parties don’t challenge the Speaker in their constituency – instead they’re able to stand without a political party label and as “the Speaker seeking re-election”.  

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John Bercow

Bercow departed the Speaker’s chair on October 31 after a decade as Speaker – making him one of the longest-serving Speakers of the modern era. 

The 56-year-old entered Parliament in 1997 and became Speaker in June 2009. 

A controversial and a colourful character, he faced both allegations of bullying by former members of his staff and accusations of bias in favour of Remain-supporting MPs. 

His cries of “order”, as well as his put-down of MPs, helped make him something of a viral star around the world – raising the profile of the ancient role of Speaker. 

With reporting from Dominic McGrath

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