Sir Lindsay Hoyle elected as new Commons Speaker

4 November 2019, 20:21

Sir Lindsay Hoyle was the favourite to replace Bercow
Sir Lindsay Hoyle was the favourite to replace Bercow. Picture: Parliament
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

MPs have elected Sir Lindsay Hoyle as Speaker of the House of Commons, replacing John Bercow after a decade in the chair.

Sir Lindsay was chosen after a long day of voting in Parliament which culminated in him beating Chris Bryant by 325 votes to 213 in the final round of Monday's ballot.

He was dragged to the Speaker's chair to a chorus of cheers following Ken Clarke's announcement at around 8:20pm. He jokingly told MPs "No clapping" in reference to one of his opponent's pledged policies.

The new Speaker thanked the Commons clerk for allowing MPs to be kept "longer than expected" and extended that gesture to all who competed in the race.

Sir Lindsay was dragged to the chair as part of an old tradition
Sir Lindsay was dragged to the chair as part of an old tradition. Picture: Parliamen

Sir Lindsay told MPs he wanted to bring back respect and tolerance in the Chamber in order to restore people's faith in it.

"I hope this House will be once a great, respected House not just in here but across the world," he said.

"As I promised I will be neutral, I will be transparent. I think this House, we could do more to ensure that that transparency continues."

He thanked his family for standing by him throughout his political career and almost broke into tears when referencing his daughter who passed away almost two years ago.

The debate to select the new Speaker commenced at around 2:30pm with Father of the House Ken Clarke chairing the proceedings.

Monday's process saw MPs vote in rounds by secret ballot. If someone received 50 per cent or more of the votes they would be immediately elected.

Otherwise, the person with the lowest number of votes, or anyone with less than five per cent, was eliminated. This process was repeated until one person held at least 50 per cent of the votes.

In the first round, Meg Hillier and Sir Edward Leigh were knocked out after receiving 10 and 12 votes respectively, both less than five per cent of the 562 who took part.

Comfortably in front was Sir Lindsay Hoyle who received 211 votes just 71 short of the 50 per cent required for an outright winner.

The new Speaker was grateful to all those who competed in the race
The new Speaker was grateful to all those who competed in the race. Picture: Parliament

He was followed by Dame Eleanor Laing with 113, Chris Bryant with 98, Harriet Harman with 72 and Dame Rosie Winterton with 46.

By the second round Sir Lindsay saw his number of votes increase to 244, however it was not still high enough to win 50 per cent of the votes. He was followed by Dame Eleanor with 122 and Chris Bryant in a close third with 120.

Harriet Harman lost votes, ending up with 59, and Dame Rosie was eliminated with 30. Ms Harman withdrew her candidacy shortly after the announcement. The second round saw 13 more MPs voting, meaning a majority would have required 288 votes.

In the third round, Sir Lindsay Hoyle improved his total once again with 267 votes cast which was still not enough to win outright. Chris Bryant moved up to 169 and Dame Eleanor Laing increased just slightly to 127 meaning she was eliminated, leaving a face-off between Bryant and Hoyle in the final round of votes.

Prior to the ballot, all seven of the original candidates were given five minutes to pitch their case for being elected to the pivotal role, with lots being drawn to decide the order.

Dame Rosie Winterton was the first to speak, saying she had been a Labour chief whip and a deputy Speaker. Dame Rosie added she had been conciliatory in every position she had held.

"As Speaker I would douse the flames, not pour petrol on them," she said.

Being from the north, she said her selection would show that the House of Commons was open to all.

Labour MP Chris Bryant was next and he told MPs that he loves Parliament and wants to restore the rulebook. He allegedly has a copy of the aforementioned rulebook, otherwise known as Erskine May at his bedside.

He also added that he wants to set Prime Minister's Questions at a strict 30 minutes and wishes to stop clapping in the chamber.

Conservative Sir Edward Leigh said he wanted to encourage backbenchers who are sincere in their beliefs and wanted to give everyone a fair crack of the whip.

Next up was another deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing. She mentioned how sad it was to see so many MPs standing down ahead of the next general election, however added that there must be an end to bullying in the chamber.

Dame Eleanor told MPs a Speaker must support their welfare and not take up time talking instead of parliamentarians.

The Labour chair of the public accounts committee, Meg Hillier, was next to make her case and underlined the necessity for an impartial Speaker. Ms Hillier was once a mayor of a London borough which she said gave her good experience of handling tricky situations.

Second-to-last to speak was hot favourite Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the senior deputy Speaker, who praised Ken Clarke and said he wished to continue hearing from him in the future.

He said that during his time se senior deputy he had given everyone a chance to speak, not just those who had been in the House for decades. Sir Lindsay hinted he had a proven track record and could be trusted to do the job well.

Last to speak was Labour's deputy leader and Mother of the House Harriet Harman who argued a Speaker must be transparent, especially whilst politics is "broken." Ms Harman also promised to add a fourth deputy Speaker from one of the smaller parties in order to ensure their voices are heard.

She also suggested another female Speaker was needed to represent the changing demographic in the Commons, as there had only been one in the past - Betty Boothroyd.

At around 3:10pm Ken Clarke wrapped up the process and informed MPs it would be a secret ballot - a tool only used for these votes or for select committee elections.

Voting stayed open for 20 minutes and the result of the first round of voting was announced roughly 45 minutes later.