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Election of the Speaker

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle was first elected Speaker of the House of Commons on 4 November 2019.

The Speaker is a Member of Parliament who is elected in an exhaustive secret ballot by all the other Members of the House of Commons. A new Speaker is elected whenever the previous Speaker has died or retires. He or she must also be re-elected after a general election. The Speaker must be someone who understands parliamentary procedure and parliamentary life and who is ready to defend the institution of Parliament. Upon taking office, a Speaker has to put aside party affiliation.

Election process

  • MPs are given a list of candidates and place an ‘X’ next to the candidate of their choice
  • If a candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the votes, the question is put to the House that he or she takes the chair as Speaker
  • If no candidate does so, the candidate with the fewest votes, and those with less than five per cent of the vote, are eliminated
  • Any candidate may withdraw within 10 minutes of the announcement of the result of a ballot
  • MPs then vote again on the reduced slate of candidates and continue doing so until one candidate receives more than half the votes.

Dragging the Speaker of the House of Commons

When a new Speaker of the House of Commons is elected, the successful candidate is physically dragged to the Chair by other MPs.

This custom has its roots in the Speaker's function to communicate the Commons' opinions to the monarch. Historically, if the monarch didn't agree with the message being communicated then the early death of the Speaker could follow. Therefore, as you can imagine, previous Speakers required some gentle persuasion to accept the post.

Speakers and general elections

Speakers still stand in general elections. They are generally unopposed by the major political parties, who will not field a candidate in the Speaker's constituency - this includes the original party they were a member of. During a general election, Speakers do not campaign on any political issues but simply stand as 'the Speaker seeking re-election'.

Further information