Tory MP Henry Bellingham withdraws bid to become next Commons speaker
Sir Henry Bellingham has dropped out of the race to become the next Commons speaker and insisted that his rivals are “better placed” to gain cross-party support.
The Conservative MP said he had “no regrets” over throwing his hat in the ring to succeed John Bercow, a role which is now being fought out between eight candidates.
The announcement comes a day after the MP for North West Norfolk was told to apologise to the House of Commons for making an inaccurate declaration of interest over an African mining company.
MPs will vote for a new speaker on Monday 4 November.
On withdrawing from the race, Sir Henry said Parliament was facing two crises of public trust and confidence, and “the whole bullying saga”.
“In order to negotiate our way through these crises, and thus restore public trust, it is important we have a new Speaker who really can command support from all corners of the House,” he said.
“Although I have received a very significant number of pledges from many in our own party, I do believe there are others better placed than me to command that cross-party support.”
He added: “I have no regrets for entering the race. On two key issues, namely the accountability of the Speaker and the need for him to be regularly re-elected by secret ballot, and on the issue of IPSA [Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority], I was able to set the themes of the debate.
“Indeed, at the start of the contest I was the only candidate talking about IPSA, but now they all are!”
Labour MP Lindsay Hoyle continues to be the bookies’ favourite in winning the top job elected by MPs.
Others running for the role are Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman, Meg Hillier, Eleanor Laing, Sir Edward Leigh and Shailesh Vara.