LONDON — Lindsay Hoyle took the lead in the race to replace John Bercow as speaker of the U.K. House of Commons on Monday afternoon, with further rounds of voting still to come.
The Labour MP and current deputy speaker won 211 votes from colleagues in the first round — shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to win outright.
Of the runners-up in the first ballot, Tory MP and current fellow deputy speaker Eleanor Laing won 113 votes, Labour MP Chris Bryant won 98 votes, Labour MP Harriet Harman won 72 votes, Labour MP Rosie Winterton won 46 votes, Labour MP Meg Hillier won 10 votes and Tory MP Edward Leigh won 12 votes.
The result means Hillier and Leigh have been knocked out of the race for winning less than 5 percent of the vote. MPs will repeat the process until a candidate wins 50 percent. A total of 562 MPs voted in the ballot, meaning a candidate needs 282 to win.
In his pitch to MPs in the Commons ahead of the vote, Hoyle said he had the experience — after nine years as deputy speaker — to take on the senior role.
The speaker chooses which proposed amendments to legislation get called for votes.
He vowed to treat all MPs equally when it comes to calling them for debates. “The person who walked through that door yesterday is just as important to their constituents,” he said. “Their voice must be heard as well, and the pecking order ought not to be there. It is about equality.”
He added that he had introduced security measures for MPs to help them feel safe, adding: “I will not let you down.”
The ultimate winner will likely have to steer the Commons through the Brexit debate when MPs return after the December 12 general election. MPs could vote to remove the new chair, though this would be highly unusual.
The speaker gets to chair debates in the House and chooses which proposed amendments to legislation get called for votes, a process that often attacks controversy.
If Boris Johnson wins the election for the Conservatives, he will attempt to enshrine his Brexit deal into law, which could be a thorny process depending on the size of his majority. MPs have then been promised a vote on the future relationship with the EU.
If Jeremy Corbyn wins the election for the Labour Party, it will most likely mean a second referendum bill being eventually brought before the Commons, a process which could be even more fraught.
Previous Speaker Bercow was criticized after he broke with precedent to allow backbench MPs to seize control of the Commons agenda to force through laws blocking a no-deal Brexit.
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