Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier will stand to replace John Bercow as speaker of the House of Commons, she confirms

Meg Hillier. Picture: Gary Manhine (c) garymanhine.com

Meg Hillier. Picture: Gary Manhine (c) garymanhine.com - Credit: Archant

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier has formally thrown her hat into the ring to replace John Bercow as speaker of the House of Commons.

It would mean resigning the Labour whip, but she would continue to represent her consituency. Traditionally, the speaker's seat is not contested at a general election, meaning Ms Hillier would be more or less guaranteed another term should she be chosen.

In a statement this afternoon, she said: "I have thought carefully about this because my first priority is always the people I represent in Hackney South and Shoreditch.

"If elected I would continue to be a hard-working constituency MP.

"In these turbulent times, we need to defend our parliamentary democracy with ever-greater diligence and fortitude. "Parliament has been suspended for five weeks as we near the deadline for Brexit, just as we need to hold the Prime Minister to account. We need a powerful Parliament, speaking on behalf of the people.

"I've spent the last four years in Parliament chairing the powerful Public Accounts Committee, holding the powerful to account, exposing waste, and protecting every penny of public expenditure. It proves that Parliament can work well. I have done serious work including on Crossrail, cyber security, housing, the sale by Network Rail of Hackney's railway arches and serious and organised crime, amongst many others.

"I want to champion Parliament with the people, and to repair the reputational damage done in recent years. I will support and extend the speaker's parliamentary placement scheme, which encourages young people without connections to come and work at the heart of politics. I will ensure that people feel their Parliament is open for business and welcoming.

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"Not for decades has the role and activity of our Parliament been so in the headlines, here and around the world. It has been a place of high drama and intrigue. We need a speaker who can champion our greatest institution in the years ahead."

If Ms Hillier - an MP since 2005 - is chosen as speaker, she could in theory remain chair of the Public Accounts Committee, a role that is appointed after each election.

The election of speaker will take place after Mr Bercow - formerly a Tory MP - stands down on October 31, the day the UK is due to leave the European Union, or sooner if there is an election before that date.

Every MP gets a vote. Ms Hillier's competition includes former Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman and fellow Labour MPs Chris Bryant and Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Conservatives Dame Eleanor Laing and Sir Edward Leigh are also in the ring, along with Pete Wishart of the SNP.