LONDON — The era of John Bercow is coming to a close.
The House of Commons Speaker — one of the few household names in U.K. politics and one of the most famous abroad — will be out of the job by the end of the month.
A challenge awaits whoever replaces him when he steps down: how to steer the country through the choppy Brexit waters ahead without courting nearly as much controversy.
Bercow’s flamboyant speeches and sarcastic put-downs to colleagues have made him an online hit for the YouTube age. And his actions on Brexit — effectively helping parliament assert its dominance over the government — have made him a hate-figure or a hero depending on which side of the debate you’re on.
The nine candidates in the race to replace Bercow will want to keep alight his legacy of empowerment for backbenchers, but with its wings considerably clipped.
“If I was the speaker I wouldn’t want to be a household name” — Labour MP Rosie Winterton
At a hustings in Westminster on Wednesday morning, the candidates laid out their positions on a range of issues and spelled out how they would diverge from the current regime in a bid to win the support of colleagues when the House of Commons votes on November 4 to decide who should succeed Bercow.
The candidates are: Tory MPs Henry Bellingham, Shailesh Vara and Edward Leigh, Labour MPs Chris Bryant, Harriet Harman and Meg Hillier, plus current deputy speakers Lindsay Hoyle, Dame Eleanor Laing and Rosie Winterton.