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Sir Henry Bellingham pulls out of race to succeed John Bercow as House of Commons speaker

PUBLISHED: 16:18 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:20 01 November 2019

North West Norfolk Conservative MP Sir Henry Bellingham Photo: UK Parliament

North West Norfolk Conservative MP Sir Henry Bellingham Photo: UK Parliament

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Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham has pulled out of the race to become the next speaker of the House of Commons.

Sir Henry, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk had been among the first to confirm he wanted to succeed John Bercow in the role.

But he has withdrawn from the contest, after concluding that others were "better placed" than him to secure cross-party support - amid what he described as "two major crises" which Parliament must grapple with.

Sir Henry said: "Having entered the contest immediately after speaker Bercow announced that he was standing down, I have been fortunate enough to attend each one of the many different Hustings alongside the other eight candidates.

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"It is obvious to me that Parliament faces two major crises: First of all, public confidence and trust in Parliament has never been so low; and secondly the whole bullying saga has done an equal amount of damage.

"In order to negotiate our way through these crises, and thus restore public trust, it is important we have a new speaker who really can command support from all corners of the House.

"Although, I have received a very significant number of pledges from many in our own party, I do believe there are others better placed than me to command that cross-party support."

Sir Henry, who was this week found to have breached the MP Code of Conduct after he was late in registering his interests as chairman of an African mining company, added: "With a heavy heart I have now decided to withdraw from the contest. I will always be grateful to those colleagues who come forward to offer their support, and I trust they will understand why this makes sense.

"Finally, I have no regrets for entering the race back in the middle of September. On two key issues, namely the accountability of the speaker and the need for them to be regularly re-elected by secret ballot, and on the issue of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), I was able to set the themes of the debate. Indeed, at the start of the contest I was the only candidate talking about IPSA, but now they all are."

Mr Bercow stepped down on Thursday and MPs will vote on the new speaker on Monday, with Sir Lindsay Hoyle the bookmakers' favourite.

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