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Seven British lawmakers vie to succeed Bercow as Commons speaker

Lawmakers in the British parliament's elected main house, the Commons, will vote on Monday on which of seven candidates will succeed Commons speaker John Bercow, who presided over several controversial moments in the Brexit debate.

London, 4 November 2019 (dpa/MIA) – Lawmakers in the British parliament’s elected main house, the Commons, will vote on Monday on which of seven candidates will succeed Commons speaker John Bercow, who presided over several controversial moments in the Brexit debate.

Deputy speakers Lindsay Hoyle, Eleanor Laing and Rosie Winterton are among the final seven candidates for a series of secret ballots.

Laing was elected to parliament for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives, while Hoyle and Winterton are both affiliated to the main opposition Labour party.

Veteran Labour lawmaker and former government minister Harriet Harman is another favourite in Monday’s election.

Delegates will hold as many secret ballots as it takes for one candidate to win an absolute majority. In every round, the candidate with the fewest votes and those who win less than 5 per cent of votes will drop out of the process.

Bercow, who chaired his final session in the Commons on Thursday, served as a Conservative member of the House of Commons since 1997 and was elected speaker in 2009, requiring him to maintain political neutrality.

Many members of his own party have accused him of bias, however, particularly since Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

Jane Ramsey, a member of the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, said on Monday that “addressing bullying and harassment” in parliament must be a priority for the new speaker.

“We have clear evidence of the scale of the problem – and through the recommendations made – what needs to be done to fix it,” Ramsey wrote, referring to several recent reports on the topic.

“Frankly, all those who work in parliament in the public interest deserve better,” she said, adding that “courageous political leadership is required.”

Alice Lilly, a parliamentary researcher at the Institute for Government think-tank, said the 158th Commons speaker will take office “at a time of unparalleled public attention and scrutiny of the role.”

“The new speaker will need to address broader questions about how to handle a more assertive Commons,” Lilly added.

She also said the new speaker must address the bullying and harassment of staff in parliament.

Bercow himself has denied allegations of bullying some parliamentary staff and of sexism.

In December, Conservative lawmaker Andrea Leadsom, now a business minister, asked Bercow in parliament why he had still not apologized for calling her a “stupid woman” earlier last year.

Bercow told Leadsom he had “dealt with [the accusation] months ago.” He did not deny making the remark.

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