MP in Speaker race pledges to be an ‘umpire not a player’

Speaker John Bercow will step down on October 31

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Conservative Speaker candidate Sir Edward Leigh has said MPs must be treated as “grown-ups” and has vowed to prioritise backbenchers who want to “ask real questions” if elected.

In his first major pitch to MPs the former trade minister said he would model himself on current Lords Speaker Lord Fowler rather than the more boisterous style of outgoing House Speaker John Bercow.

“We should treat MPs as grown-ups and let them know when they will be called at the beginning of debates,” he said.

“The Speaker must always be scrupulously fair and polite to colleagues, speaking only to effect and briefly and submerge his personality into the role.”

Sir Edward Leigh (L) and Chris Bryant (R) are running for Speaker

Labour MP Chris Bryant has also announced he is running and sought to position himself as an “umpire, not a player”.

“Someone who knows the rules inside out, who has enough of a sense of humour to defuse the fraught moments that are bound to come and enough of a sense of occasion (and a loud enough voice) to be able to keep good order,” he said.

The former minister said Prime Minister’s Questions should return to 30 minutes.

Under Mr Bercow the session has often run for 45 minutes and could sometimes stretch to an hour.

The outgoing Speaker will take the chair for the final time on October 31 and the election to replace him will take place on November 4.

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