Bercow elected new speaker

SUFFOLK MP Sir Michael Lord was eliminated from the race to be named the next Speaker of the House of Commons in the first round of voting

CONSERVATIVE John Bercow tonight won the race to replace Michael Martin as Speaker of the Commons.

Mr Bercow (Buckingham) topped all three secret ballots - beating his only challenger in the third, Sir George Young - by 51 votes.

The self-styled "clean-break candidate," widely regarded as more popular on the Labour benches than his own, secured victory after promising a period of change and reform.

Bercow is a former student of the University of Essex, Colchester, from where he graduated in 1985 with a first class honours degree in Government.

Earlier, Suffolk MP Sir Michael Lord was eliminated from the race to be named the next Speaker of the House of Commons after the first round of voting today.

The Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich received the support of just nine MPs to finish bottom of the voting.

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Sir Michael is currently Deputy Speaker of the Commons.

Conservative MP John Bercow was leading the field after winning the support of 179 MPs in the first round of voting.

Labour backbencher Parmjit Dhanda and Tory veterans Richard Shepherd and Sir Patrick Cormack also fell at the first hurdle after securing less than 5% of the 594 MPs' votes cast.

The contest to replace Michael Martin as Speaker is being held for the first time under a secret ballot system which could delay a final result until late this evening.

In the first ballot, held after each candidate made their pitch in a short speech to the Commons, Mr Bercow secured a comfortable lead ahead of fellow Tory Sir George Young with 112 MPs' votes.

They were followed by Labour former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett on 74 votes, deputy speaker Sir Alan Haselhurst on 66, Liberal Democrat Sir Alan Beith on 55, Tory former Home Office minister Ann Widdecombe on 44, Mr Dhanda on 26, Mr Shepherd with 15, Sir Patrick on 13 and Sir Michael on nine.

The surviving six contenders now go into a second round, which could be followed by further ballots until one candidate secures the support of more than 50% of those voting.