2019 Speaker of the British House of Commons election

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2019 Election for the Speaker of the House of Commons
← 2009 4 November 2019
  Majority party Minority party Third party
  Official portrait of Mr Lindsay Hoyle crop 2.jpg Official portrait of Chris Bryant crop 2.jpg Eleanor Laing, MP for Epping Forest.jpg
Candidate Sir Lindsay Hoyle Chris Bryant Dame Eleanor Laing
Party Labour Labour Conservative
Constituency Chorley Rhondda Epping Forest
Third round 267 (47.3%) 169 (29.9%) 127 (22.5%)
Final round 325 (60.2%) 213 (39.4%) Eliminated

Speaker before election

John Bercow

Elected Speaker

Sir Lindsay Hoyle

The election for the 158th Speaker of the House of Commons took place on 4 November 2019. Sir Lindsay Hoyle was elected with 325 votes in the final ballot, out of a total of 540 votes cast.

The election was triggered on 9 September 2019, when former Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, announced his resignation as both Speaker and Member of Parliament, effective at the end of the 31 October 2019 sitting, unless Parliament was dissolved for an early general election before that date, in which case the election of Speaker would take place at the first sitting of the new Parliament. On 29 October the House of Commons voted for an early general election to be held on 12 December 2019 with Parliament due to be dissolved on 6 November, two days after the election of a new Speaker.[1] However, Hoyle and fellow candidate Dame Eleanor Laing chaired the annual sitting of the UK Youth Parliament, which took place in the Commons on 8 November 2019.

John Bercow[edit]

John Bercow, the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Buckingham, was elected to the post of Speaker in 2009. The 2009 election was triggered by the resignation of Michael Martin at the height of the parliamentary expenses scandal. Martin was perceived as being part of a cover-up of inappropriate Parliamentary expenses and faced an unprecedented motion of no confidence in his speakership after he made comments from the chair that attacked a Daily Telegraph leak of parliamentarians' expenses claims.[2] Bercow beat nine other candidates to become Speaker; he defeated fellow Conservative MP George Young in the third and final round by a margin of 322–271.[3]

As Speaker, Bercow garnered a reputation of being a moderniser of the office—he notably eschewed the use of embroidered court dress in favour of business suits—and having a friendly relationship with backbenchers, allowing more urgent questions and backbench business than his predecessors.[4] His backbencher-friendly reputation often put him at odds with the Government: in March 2015, a Government attempt to bring in an election by secret ballot after the general election two months later was defeated by opposition and backbench MPs who saw the effort as an attempt by the Government to depose a Speaker they disliked.[5]

Bercow was elected without contest after the 2010, 2015, and 2017 general elections. In October 2018, it was reported that Bercow had informed friends of his intention to step down as Speaker in mid-2019, after ten years in the role. At the time, Bercow was facing several allegations of bullying his parliamentary staff. In May 2019, he delayed his impending resignation; he stated that he did not feel it was “sensible to vacate the chair” whilst events such as Brexit were debated heavily in Parliament.[6]

Bercow's relationship with the Government had deteriorated over 2019; in March, he allowed backbenchers to attempt to take control of the Order Paper and pass the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019, which forced Brexit to be delayed from March to October 2019. After backbenchers took control of the Order Paper again to pass the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, former Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, wrote an opinion column in the 8 September edition of the Mail on Sunday which accused the Speaker of "flagrant abuse" of parliamentary process and welcomed the Buckingham Conservative Association's intent to break with tradition and stand a candidate against him at the next general election.[7]

On 9 September 2019, hours before the prorogation of Parliament, Bercow made a statement from the chair announcing his impending resignation: if Parliament voted for a general election that night, he would stand down at the election; if Parliament rejected an early election, he would stand down at the close of business on 31 October. Bercow said his choice of date — also the day when the United Kingdom was due to leave the European Union — was to ensure minimal disruption to the debates on the Queen's Speech in mid-October.[8] His resignation came at a time of major legislative conflict between Parliament and the Government; a speakership election before a general election made it more difficult for the Government—which did not have a working majority in Parliament—to install a friendlier Speaker.[8] Bercow resigned as an MP on 4 November.

Procedure[edit]

Outgoing Speaker John Bercow.

The rules for the election of the Speaker were introduced in 2001 and are set out in Section 1 of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. All candidates for Speaker were required to be a sitting Member of Parliament and be nominated by at least twelve and at most fifteen Members of Parliament, at least three of whom must be from a political party different from that of the candidate. Each MP could only nominate one candidate. On the morning of the election, the nominations were transmitted to the Clerk of the House alongside the candidate's statement of consent to nomination. The House then met at 2:30 pm and was presided over by Father of the House Kenneth Clarke (Independent, Rushcliffe), during the election. If there had been only one candidate, a motion would have been laid before the House to ask if the candidate should take the Chair as Speaker. If the question was challenged, the decision would have been put to a division.[9]

There were seven candidates for election and each candidate gave a five-minute speech to the House before the start of voting. The House then voted by secret ballot, using the exhaustive ballot voting system. Each MP cast one vote and an absolute majority was required. If no candidate won a majority, the individual with the fewest votes was eliminated, as were any candidates who received less than 5% of the votes cast. The House then continued to vote until one member received a majority of the vote. After four rounds of voting, Sir Lindsay Hoyle received an absolute majority. At that point, the Father of the House Kenneth Clarke put the question "That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair of this House as Speaker"; which was passed without audible opposition. Hoyle was then, by tradition, dragged to the Chair by his fellow MPs.[9][10]

Hoyle formally became Speaker upon receiving the Queen's approbation shortly after his election. The approval was given on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II by a royal commission consisting of Robert James Buckland, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain; Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, Leader of the House of Lords; Lord Dholakia, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords; Lord Judge, Convenor of the Crossbench Peers; and Baroness Smith of Basildon, Leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords.[11]

Candidates[edit]

Following reports that John Bercow planned to step down in 2019, a number of potential candidates attracted speculation in the media.[12][13] Candidates and their intentions are given below:

Announced[edit]

Declined[edit]

Withdrew prior to nomination[edit]

Nominations[edit]

The official list of candidates, along with the MPs who nominated them, was released on the morning of 4 November.[23] Nominations were as follows:

Opinion polling[edit]

Pollster/client(s) Date(s)
conducted
Sample
size
Chris Bryant Henry Bellingham Harriet Harman Meg Hillier Lindsay Hoyle Eleanor Laing Edward Leigh Shailesh Vara Rosie Winterton Other Don't Know Lead
YouGov 9–29 Oct 2019 101 MPs 13% 0% 7% 0% 50% 14% 0% 0% 3% 3% 10% 36% lead for Hoyle
YouGov 16–28 Jan 2019 100 MPs 1% N/A 5% N/A 35% 6% N/A N/A N/A 5%
Others
Peter Bone 2%
'Keep John Bercow' 2%
Graham Brady 1%
Chris Williamson 1%
Vernon Coaker 1%
41% 29% lead for Hoyle

Results[edit]

The results of the first secret ballot were announced at 16:15 on 4 November 2019.[24] The second ballot results were announced at 17:45. The third ballot results were announced at 19:15.[24] Sir Lindsay Hoyle was announced as the winner at 20:20.

Candidate First ballot Second ballot Third ballot Fourth ballot
Votes % Votes % Votes % Votes %
Sir Lindsay Hoyle Green tickY 211 37.5 244 42.4 267 47.3 325 60.2
Chris Bryant 98 17.4 120 20.9 169 29.9 213 39.4
Dame Eleanor Laing 113 20.1 122 21.2 127 22.5 Eliminated
Harriet Harman 72 12.8 59 10.3 Withdrew
Dame Rosie Winterton 46 8.2 30 5.2 Eliminated
Sir Edward Leigh 12 2.1 Eliminated
Meg Hillier 10 1.8 Eliminated
Spoilt/rejected ballots 0 0.0 0 0.0 2 0.4 2 0.4
Turnout[nb 1] 562 87.8 575 89.8 565 88.3 540 84.4

Following the final vote, the question was put "That Sir Lindsay Hoyle do take the Chair of this House as Speaker", which was carried without any audible opposition. After this, Hoyle was dragged to the Chair (as per House custom) by Nigel Evans and Caroline Flint, and gave an inaugural speech as Speaker elect. Hoyle received royal approbation later in the evening from the royal commissioners and, at that time, officially became Speaker.[25]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ At the time of the election, the full house had 650 seats. Two of these were vacant, seven Sinn Féin MPs do not take their seats, and one MP was suspended. Turnout is thus based on 640 possible voters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "John Bercow bows out as Commons Speaker". 31 October 2019. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  2. ^ Sparrow, Andrew (19 May 2009). "Speaker Michael Martin to resign today". The Guardian.
  3. ^ Summers, Deborah (22 June 2009). "John Bercow wins race to be new Commons Speaker". The Guardian.
  4. ^ D'Arcy, Mark (10 February 2017). "John Bercow: Why the Marmite Speaker is staying put". BBC News.
  5. ^ Wintour, Patrick (26 March 2015). "Tory backbench rebellion defeats Hague's attempt to unseat Speaker". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Mason, Rowena (28 May 2019). "John Bercow defies Eurosceptics with vow to stay on as Speaker". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2019.
  7. ^ Leadsom, Andrea (8 September 2019). "His abuse of the rules flagrantly defied the will of the people". The Mail on Sunday.
  8. ^ a b Syal, Rajeev; Mason, Rowena (9 September 2019). "Race is on to replace John Bercow as Commons Speaker". The Guardian.
  9. ^ a b Kelly, Richard (9 June 2017). "The election of a Speaker". Commons Briefing. House of Commons Library. 5074.
  10. ^ "Rules and traditions of Parliament". Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  11. ^ "Hansard". hansard.parliament.uk. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Who will be the next Speaker of the House of Commons and how is the role elected?". The Sun. 17 October 2018.
  13. ^ Burke, Darren (10 September 2019). "Doncaster MP Dame Rosie Winterton in running to replace House of Commons speaker John Bercow". Doncaster Free Press.
  14. ^ "Chris Bryant bids to be new Commons Speaker". BBC News. 10 September 2019.
  15. ^ "Labour's Harriet Harman to run for Commons Speaker". BBC News. 10 September 2019.
  16. ^ Alwakeel, Ramzy (10 September 2019). "Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier will stand to replace John Bercow as speaker of the House of Commons, she confirms". Hackney Gazette.
  17. ^ Lindsay Hoyle [@LindsayHoyle_MP] (9 September 2019). "1. Now that there is a vacancy for the Office of Speaker of the House of Commons, I am happy to confirm that I will be standing as a candidate" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  18. ^ "Epping Forest MP Dame Eleanor Laing to stand as new Speaker for House of Commons". East London & West Essex Guardian. 9 September 2019.
  19. ^ "MP Sir Edward Leigh will stand for Speaker". Market Rasen Mail. 12 September 2019.
  20. ^ Kevin Schofield [@PolhomeEditor] (27 September 2019). "SCOOPETTE: Rosie Winterton has told MPs she is throwing her hat into the ring to be Speaker" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  21. ^ "Pete Wishart rules out bid to stand as Commons Speaker". The National. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  22. ^ "Sir Henry Bellingham MP has just announced that he is no longer standing to become Speaker".
  23. ^ "Here are the nominations for each candidate". 4 November 2019.
  24. ^ a b "Speaker's election: MPs begin process to pick John Bercow's successor". bbc.com. 4 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Moment new Speaker dragged to the chair". BBC News. 4 November 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2019.