British MPs vote on new speaker after Bercow’s departure
British MPs will on Monday select the new speaker of the House of Commons, once an unremarkable event but one now charged with significance following the previous occupant’s role in Brexit.
Eight MPs are running to replace John Bercow, who placed himself front and centre of the Brexit saga by choosing amendments and introducing procedures that Leave-supporting MPs claimed were designed to frustrate Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Bercow also faced accusations that he fostered a culture of bullying within parliament. But his colourful personality and eccentric performances in parliament gave him an international profile and raised the status of the office.
Lindsay Hoyle, Bercow’s deputy since 2010, is the odds-on favourite to fill his shoes but other political heavyweights are also vying for the job.
Hoyle has been a Labour MP for 22 years and was Bercow’s deputy from 2010, since when his distinctive Lancashire accent has rung out from the speaker’s chair.
In a sign that he may follow a different path from Bercow, he recently rejected amendments that would have made it more difficult for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to force a general election, now due on December 12.
The 62-year-old is as unimpressed as his predecessor by rowdy MPs, once chastising Scottish Nationalists for humming the EU anthem “Ode to Joy” in the chamber.
Hoyle pledged in an interview published in the Sunday Times to repair what he claims has become a “toxic parliament”.
His closest rival appears to be veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman, parliament’s longest-serving female MP.
She entered the Commons in 1982 and served as the Labour Party’s deputy leader from 2007-2015, leading the party twice, in 2010 and 2015, between leaders.
The former justice minister is known for her ardent feminism and has been a long-time crusader on social justice issues.
Another woman in the running is Eleanor Laing, Bercow’s number two deputy since 2013.
The 61-year-old Conservative entered parliament in 1997 and previously served as the party’s spokeswoman on Scotland.
One of the more colourful characters in contention is former Church of England vicar, and now Labour MP Chris Bryant.