MPs questioning Bercow’s impartiality, says Speaker candidate

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Media captionDeputy Commons Speaker Eleanor Laing says she “would do things differently”

A candidate to replace John Bercow as House of Commons Speaker has promised to “do things rather differently” if she gets the job.

Eleanor Laing told the BBC “a large number” of fellow MPs felt “the impartiality of the chair has possibly been diminished” by Mr Bercow.

He has repeatedly said he is not biased, but is instead standing up for the rights of Parliament.

Eight MPs – four Labour and four Tory – are running to be Speaker.

Mr Bercow is standing down after more than 10 years in the job.

Some of his detractors accuse him of making the work of government more difficult and being biased against Brexit.

In the Commons on Thursday, Conservative MP Vicky Ford said to the Speaker: “Please can you continue to make sure you are fair and balanced, because sometimes it doesn’t feel like this.”

In response, Mr Bercow said: “I do what I can to stand up for the rights of this House… I am standing up for the important principle of the decency of our democracy, and I should have thought that that was pretty fair.”

Image copyright UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Ms Laing, who is Conservative MP for Epping Forest, Essex, and a current Deputy Speaker, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The person who occupies the chair should use moderate language and not be aggressive.

“It’s not necessarily my opinion, but there are large numbers of MPs who feel that the impartiality of the chair has been possibly diminished.”

She urged MPs to behave “with courtesy and politely”, and said she would enforce “respect” for Parliament if elected Speaker

Under the current system, MPs must be supported by 12 other MPs, at least three of whom must be from a different party from the candidate.

Mr Bercow has said he will stand down at the end of October, or sooner if a general election is called before then.

The election for the next Speaker will take place on 4 November, and the winner take up office by the end of the day.

The current candidates from Labour are Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman, Meg Hillier and Lindsay Hoyle.

The Conservative candidates are Ms Laing, Sir Henry Bellingham, Sir Edward Leigh and Shailesh Vara.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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