2009 Speaker of the British House of Commons election

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← 2000 22 June 2009 Next contested →
  John Bercow (Obama visit 2011)-B.png George Young Minister.jpg Margaret Beckett Jul06.jpg
Candidate John Bercow Sir George Young Margaret Beckett
Party Conservative Conservative Labour
Constituency Buckingham North W. Hampshire Derby South
First round 179 112 74
Second round 221 174 70
Final round 322 271 Withdrew

  Sir Alan headshot.JPG Alan Beith (2008).jpg Widdebookclub (cropped).jpg
Candidate Alan Haselhurst Alan Beith Ann Widdecombe
Party Conservative Liberal Democrat Conservative
Constituency Saffron Walden Berwick-upon-Tweed Maidstone and
The Weald
First round 66 55 44
Second round 57 46 30
Final round Withdrew Withdrew Eliminated

Speaker before election

Michael Martin

Elected Speaker

John Bercow

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The 2009 election of the Speaker of the House of Commons occurred on 22 June 2009 following the resignation of Michael Martin as Speaker during the parliamentary expenses scandal. Martin was the first Speaker since Sir John Trevor in 1695 to be forced out of office.[1] It was the first Speaker election since 11 May 2005, and the first contested election of a Speaker since 23 October 2000.[2]

Conservative MP John Bercow was elected as the new speaker, after three rounds of voting.


Under the new rules for the election of the Speaker, introduced in 2001,[3] candidates needed to be nominated by at least twelve Members of Parliament, at least three of them members of a party different from that of the candidate. Each member was allowed to nominate only one candidate. After the candidates' speeches, the House voted by secret ballot, with an absolute majority required for victory. If no candidate won a majority, then the individual with the fewest votes was eliminated, as were any candidates who received less than five per cent of the votes cast. The House continued to vote until one member received the requisite majority under a voting system known as the exhaustive ballot. Then, the House voted on a formal motion to appoint the member in question to the Speakership.[2] The Father of the House, Alan Williams, was the presiding officer of the Commons during the election process.[4]

The final stage of appointment of a new Speaker is a formality but has constitutional significance. The Queen must signify her approval of the new Speaker, which is done by the appointment of a Royal Commission.[5]


Nominated candidates[edit]

The following individuals all confirmed their intention to stand for election to the office of Speaker, and were all in turn confirmed as nominated candidates by the Parliamentary authorities on the morning of the election:[6]

All 10 of the above candidates appeared at a Hansard Society hustings on 15 June.[12] This was the first full hustings to take place for a Speaker election,[15] although there was a hustings for the 2000 speaker election, which several of the candidates did not attend.[16]

Candidate who withdrew prior to nomination[edit]

The following candidate announced his candidacy, only to withdraw before the election was held:


The result of the first secret ballot was announced at approximately 17:10 (16:10 UTC) on 22 June 2009, after the nominated candidates had all addressed the House of Commons. The result of the second ballot was announced at approximately 18:55 (17:55 UTC). Following the result of the second ballot, Beckett, Haselhurst and Beith withdrew their candidacies after their support fell, leaving a straight runoff in the third round between Bercow and Young. The result of the third ballot was announced around 20:30 (19:30 UTC).[18][19] Conservative MP John Bercow won, with 54% of the final vote.

Candidate First ballot[20] Second ballot[21] Third ballot[22]
Votes % Votes % Votes %
John Bercow Green tickY 179 30.1 221 36.9 322 54.3
Sir George Young 112 18.9 174 29.0 271 45.7
Margaret Beckett 74 12.5 70 11.7 Withdrew
Sir Alan Haselhurst 66 11.1 57 9.5 Withdrew
Sir Alan Beith 55 9.3 46 7.7 Withdrew
Ann Widdecombe 44 7.4 30 5.0 Eliminated
Parmjit Dhanda 26 4.4 Eliminated
Richard Shepherd 15 2.5 Eliminated
Patrick Cormack 13 2.2 Eliminated
Sir Michael Lord 9 1.5 Eliminated
Spoilt/rejected ballots 1[nb 1][23] 0.2 1 0.2 0 0
Turnout[nb 2] 594 93.1 599 93.9 593 92.9

Following the final vote, the question was put "That John Bercow do take the Chair of this House as Speaker", which was carried without any audible opposition. After this, Bercow was dragged to the Chair (as per House custom) by Charles Walker and Sandra Gidley, and gave an inaugural speech as Speaker-Elect.

Later that evening, Bercow was formally appointed Speaker by receiving the Queen's approbation through a Royal Commission in the House of Lords.[24]


  1. ^ Labour MP John Mann said he had spoilt his ballot due to the candidates being "dismal"
  2. ^ At the time of the election, the full house had 646 seats. Two of these were vacant, five Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats, and Alan Williams was not eligible to vote. Turnout is thus based on 638 possible voters.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Under-fire Speaker to step down". BBC News. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  2. ^ a b "How will new Speaker be chosen?". BBC News. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  3. ^ "Standing Orders of the House of Commons – Public Business 2001". publications.parliament.uk. 12 June 2001. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  4. ^ "Who is 'Father of the House'?". BBC News. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  5. ^ "How the Speaker will be elected", Daily Mail, 22 June 2009.
  6. ^ "Speaker candidates announced". parliament.uk. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  7. ^ a b c "Beckett joins race to be Speaker". BBC News. 10 June 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  8. ^ "Beith responds to resignation of Speaker Martin". Rt Hon Sir Alan Beith MP. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  9. ^ Nicholas Watt (20 May 2009). "John Bercow says he is ready for the Speaker's role". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  10. ^ Hencke, David (10 June 2009). "British Asian MP puts himself forward to be first ethnic-minority Speaker of Commons". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  11. ^ Lucy Ward & Paul Owen (22 May 2009). "Sir Alan Haselhurst enters race to become Commons Speaker". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  12. ^ a b Sparrow, Andrew (15 June 2009). "Commons Speaker hustings – live blog". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
  13. ^ "Ann Widdecombe seeks Speaker role". BBC News. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 11 June 2009.
  14. ^ "Sir George throws his hat into the ring for the Speakership". Sir George Young MP. 9 June 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  15. ^ "Hansard Society Speaker Hustings". Hansard Society. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  16. ^ "Speaker candidates issue electoral statements". The Guardian. London. 17 October 2000. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  17. ^ "Frank Field MP: Speakership Statement". frankfield.co.uk. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  18. ^ "An insider's guide to the election of The Speaker". The Times. UK. 22 June 2009. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  19. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (22 June 2009). "Commons Speaker contest: election day blog – live". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  20. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 22 Jun 2009 (pt 0003)". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  21. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 22 Jun 2009 (pt 0004)". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  22. ^ Westminster, Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons,. "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 22 Jun 2009 (pt 0004)". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  23. ^ Boulton, Adam (22 June 2009). "Speaker Race – Round One". Sky News. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  24. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 22 Jun 2009 (pt 0005)". publications.parliament.uk.

External links[edit]