Who could replace John Bercow as House of Commons Speaker?

10 September 2019, 18:48 | Updated: 10 September 2019, 22:13

John Bercow has fired the starting gun on the race to replace him as one of parliament's most senior and influential people - the Speaker of the Commons.

His successor will be charged with keeping the parliamentary agenda running smoothly - including sometimes making controversial decisions about what MPs should vote on - as well as mantaining order in the Commons chamber.

So who could take the top job when it becomes vacant on 31 October - the day that Mr Becow has said he will resign on and also the date of the UK's scheduled departure from the EU?

Here's a full list of all the runners and riders to take on the role:


Harriet Harman

The former deputy Labour Party leader is among the favourites to become the new Speaker.

As the longest-serving current female MP, having first been elected to parliament in 1982, she is known as the "Mother of the House".

Having held a number of roles in Tony Blair's government, she was later elected Labour's deputy leader under Gordon Brown.

She stepped up to lead the party during the 2015 leadership election to pick a successor to Ed Miliband.

Since then, the qualified solicitor has remained strictly on the Commons back benches, but played an important role as chair of a parliamentary committee on human rights.

She told Sky News she would be a "robust" Speaker.

"I've been there a long time and therefore they all know me and they know they can trust me and they know that I really care about our democracy," the Camberwell and Peckham MP said.

"I think it also needs a real firm hand on the tiller. It needs somebody who is really tough, with a bit of the hind of a rhino.

"Because the government, really, is always tempted to push parliament around.

Lindsay Hoyle

Someone already familiar with the job is Lindsay Hoyle, who has been the Commons deputy speaker for more than nine years.

Elected to parliament in 1997 as the Labour MP for Chorley, he is very used to telling colleagues off for bad behaviour or speeches that go on too long.

He threw his hat into the ring to replace Mr Bercow with a promise to provide "the stability and leadership the House of Commons requires in order to remain at the centre to our political system".

Mr Hoyle said there was "much more work to do" to build on Mr Bercow's efforts to make parliament more diverse and representative of the whole country.

He added: "I believe that I have proven myself to be independent and fair.

"I have ensured all MPs have been able to exercise their right to speak on behalf of constituents to hold the government to account - regardless of position or length of service."

Eleanor Laing

Another MP who's been training for the top job for years is Eleanor Laing, having also been a deputy speaker, since 2013.

She also joined parliament in 1997, as the Conservative MP for Epping Forest, and often steps in for Mr Bercow during debates.

Ms Laing recently told The House magazine there is "a lot to be done to take our democratic system onto the next stage" and claimed there needs to be "less testosterone and less aggression" at events such as Prime Minister's Questions.

Declaring her intention to stand to replace Mr Bercow, she paid tribute to her "friend" of 32 years who had "achieved an enormous amount".

"There will be a vigorous campaign to succeed him and I am happy to confirm I will be a candidate," she added.

Sir Edward Leigh

A veteran backbencher, Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh has been in parliament since 1983.

Throughout his more than three decades' services, he only once held a junior ministerial role - for three years in the trade department under Sir John Major.

Sir Edward is well-known as an avid user of points of order to query parliamentary proceedings.

The committed Brexiteer told Sky News he is "strongly in favour of politicians keeping their word and letting everyone have their say".

"I will say firmly and strongly that parliament voted overwhelmingly to have this referendum," he said.

"Parliament cannot now stop it. When people talk about how terrible no-deal is, I agree with them.

"I voted for the deal three ties, but let's face it, many people in this parliament just want to block Brexit.

"We've got to be completely honest, avoid all the hypocrisy."

Chris Bryant

The Labour MP for Rhondda is a keen student of parliament, and is often in the Commons chamber for friendly exchanges on procedure with the current Speaker.

He is a former shadow leader of the Commons and has published a multi-volume biography of parliament.

Included in his pitch to MPs is to return PMQs to a 30-minute event, with Mr Bercow often allowing it to drag on much longer; to call MPs to speak in debates according to their relevance to issues rather than their seniority; and to respect the rights of minority parties.

In a veiled reference to allegations against Mr Becrow, Mr Bryant has also promised to "make sure every single person who works in parliament is valued and respected and can do their work without fear of bullying, abuse or intimidation".

Mr Bercow has denied claims of bullying from his former staff.

Sir Henry Bellingham

Another long-serving MP is Sir Henry Bellingham, who came third in the election for deputy speaker back in 2013 - which Ms Laing ended up winning.

He was first elected to the Commons in 1983, but was kicked out by voters for four years at the 1997 election before winning his seat back.

Sir Henry has previously served as both a Conservative whip and Foreign Office minister.

"The Speaker himself, he should be like a really good referee, a really good umpire. He should never be the story," Sir Henry told Sky News when he announced his candidacy.

"I think it does need someone of experience, but also change of approach.

"The Speaker needs to push the boundaries, particularly at a time of national crisis.

"It's up to the Speaker to make sure parliament has the tools and ability to hold the executive to account at all times."

Pete Wishart

The SNP's spokesperson on the constitution, Pete Wishart has been an MP since 2001.

If successful with his candidacy, he would be the first Speaker since the Second World War to have not come from one of the two main parties.

He told the PoliticsHome website, if he becomes Speaker, his reforms would include ditching MPs' formal dress code and bringing in an electronic voting system to speed up Commons business.

Mr Wishart also wants to ditch the convention that MPs don't name each other in parliament or don't clap to indicate their support for a speech.

MPs currently use titles such as "Right Honourable Member" or "Honourable Member" to refer to each other.

These reforms would prepare parliament for the "21st century", he said.

Meg Hillier

The Labour MP has made a name for herself as the chair of the Commons' influential Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises government spending and the delivery of public services.

Under her chairmanship, the committee has recently held inquiries on issues such as Crossrail, the BBC's pay policies, and the government's spend on consultants to prepare for Brexit.

Ms Hillier, a mother of three, has served as MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch since 2005 and was previously a junior minister under former prime minister Gordon Brown.

Her time in government was marked by an embarrassing episode where she forgot her own identity card at a photocall to promote identity cards.

She blamed the mistake on the demands of looking after her baby.

Ms Hillier also served in Ed Miliband's shadow cabinet as shadow energy and climate change secretary.

Prior to entering parliament, the former journalist was a local councillor, mayor of Islington and a member of the London Assembly.

She has recently backed the extension of Freedom of Information laws to cover organisations entirely funded by the taxpayer to deliver public projects, such as Serco or Capita.

Announcing her candidacy, she told the Hackney Gazette: "In these turbulent times, we need to defend our parliamentary democracy with ever-greater diligence and fortitude."