Who is in the running to be the next Speaker of the House of Commons?


The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, has announced plans to step down from the role on 31 October. This has triggered an election to replace him.

The table below lists MPs who have publicly indicated that they will seek to be candidates for Speaker of the Commons. It will be updated as and when other MPs declare their intentions.




Notable roles held

Notable views

Sir Henry Bellingham Conservative

North West Norfolk (first elected 2001)

  • Member, Panel of Chairs (since 2017)
  • Under secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs(2010–12)
  • Shadow justice minister (2006–10)

Believes that the Speaker should be an “umpire”, and not “the story”.

Would like to return to ceremonial dress for the Speaker and parliamentary clerks.

Does not want to see a written constitution, as feels that having an unwritten constitution allows greater adaptability.

Chris Bryant Labour

Rhondda (first elected 2001)

  • Chairman of the House Finance Committee (since 2017)
  • Under secretary of state for Europe and Asia (2009–10)
  • Under secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs (2008–09)
  • Deputy leader of the House of Commons (2008–09)


Has suggested a ‘Speaker’s conference’ be held to discuss the procedural and parliamentary issues raised in recent years.

Believes next Speaker should help Parliament to heal following a different period in which it has been “bloodied and bruised”.

Emphasises that he would not belittle or lecture MPs from the Chair.

Wishes the use the Speaker’s House to host international guests and welcome MPs’ partners as a means of helping develop a parliamentary community.

Harriet Harman Labour

Camberwell and Peckham (first elected 1982)

  • Chair, Joint Committee on Human Rights (since 2017)
  • ‘Mother of the House’ (not an officially recognised position, but refers to status as longest-serving female MP)
  • Acting leader of the opposition (2015)
  • Deputy leader of the Labour Party (2007–15)
  • Shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport (2011–15)
  • Leader of the House of Commons and minister for women and equality (2007–11)

Has emphasised the importance of Parliament being able to “have its say”

Believes that there is a difficult relationship between Parliament and the public, which requires a Speaker to make a positive case for the importance of Parliament

Would seek to be “a champion for Parliament

Meg Hillier  Labour

Hackney South and Shoreditch (first elected 2005)

  • Chair, Public Accounts Committee (since 2015)
  • Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change  (2010–11)

Believes in the need for a “powerful Parliament” to hold government to account.

Has emphasised the need to repair “reputational damage” done to Parliament, and demonstrate to the public Parliament’s value.

Wants to expand the Speaker’s parliamentary placement scheme, which provides opportunities for young people to gain experience working in Parliament.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle Labour

Chorley (first elected 1997)

  • Deputy Speaker of the Commons and Chairman of Ways and Means (since 2010)
  • Member, European Scrutiny Committee (2005–10)
  • Member, Trade and Industry Committee (1998–10)


Has raised concerns about MPs’ security and the abuse of members of Parliament. Hoyle was in the Chair during the March 2017 terrorist attack in Westminster.

Wants expansion of in-Parliament wellbeing services to include MPs’ constituency staff.

Has emphasised problems with the parliamentary buildings and wants to see “all options on the table” for the decant of Parliament during restoration and renewal works. Has suggested getting parliamentary cats.

Dame Eleanor Laing Conservative

Epping Forest (first elected 1997)

  • Deputy Speaker of the Commons (since 2013)
  • Shadow junior justice minister (2007–10)
  • Shadow secretary of state for Scotland (2005)
  • Shadow minister for women and equality (2004–05)

Wants to see less aggression in debates, and thinks that generational shift in MPs, as well as more women MPs and a more family-friendly environment, will help this.

Has reminded MPs as deputy speaker that they do not have an automatic right to be called when they wish to speak in a debate.

Sir Edward Leigh Conservative

Gainsborough (first elected 1983)

  • Chairman of Public Accounts Committee (2001–10)

Would be a “traditional Speaker who does not speak much”.

Suggested that urgent questions should only occur “when there is something urgent and important to be discussed”—implying that this is not the case currently.

Believes that the decant of Parliament to enable restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster should be into a temporary chamber for as short a time as possible.

Thinks that time limits on speeches in debates should not be less than five minutes, to ensure serious debate.

Shailesh Vara Conservative

North West Cambridgeshire (first elected 2005)

  • Minister of state for Northern Ireland (2018)
  • Under secretary of state for work and pensions (2015–16)
  • Under secretary of state for courts and legal aid (2013–16)

Believes that the role of Speaker is “vital to our democracy”.

Has previously been critical of proposals to decant Parliament while restoration and renewal work is carried out.

Pete Wishart SNP

Perth and North Perthshire (first elected 2001)

  • Shadow (SNP) leader of the Commons (since 2015)
  • Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee (since 2015)

Has unveiled a manifesto focused on reform.

Wants to bring in electronic voting in place of division lobbies, to save parliamentary time, and extend proxy voting.

Believes that MPs should be addressed by name in the chamber, rather than by constituency.

Thinks that choice of which MPs are called to speak should be based more around those interested in the subject being debates, rather than the MP’s seniority.

Update date: 
Friday, September 13, 2019
Authors: Alice Lilly