Sir Patrick Cormack declares bid for Speaker

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Indy Politics

A new contender to succeed Betty Boothroyd as Speaker of the House of Commons emerged yesterday when the Tory frontbencher Sir Patrick Cormack announced he was running for the job.

A new contender to succeed Betty Boothroyd as Speaker of the House of Commons emerged yesterday when the Tory frontbencher Sir Patrick Cormack announced he was running for the job.

Sir Patrick, 61, resigned as shadow Deputy Leader of the House to give himself more time to contest the post, which is due to be vacated by Miss Boothroyd at the end of the parliamentary year in November.

In his resignation letter to William Hague, Sir Patrick said yesterday that a number of colleagues had asked him to consider the post and he had decided it was more "seemly" to do so as a backbencher. "The Speakership is not an office for which one should campaign or canvass. It is the highest honour that the House can bestow on any member," he said. "But I have felt uncomfortable talking to colleagues about this over the last 10 days while still holding a frontbench position."

Sir Patrick has been an MP since 1970, representing Cannock until 1974, Staffordshire South West from 1974 until 1983, and his current seat of Staffordshire South since then.

Allies of the Staffordshire South MP claim he is a front-runner, but Labour MPs said it was unlikely that he will be able to win enough of their votes for victory. He has upset many Labour MPs by taking a hardline stance against those who want to reform the House of Commons, and who complain of its "public school atmosphere and outdated practices".

Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on foreign affairs, is said to be favourite for the job, with Sir Alan Haslehurst, the Deputy Speaker, seen as a dark horse. Others who have expressed an interest are Gwyneth Dunwoody, Labour MP for Crewe and Nantwich, and Nicholas Winterton, Tory MP for Macclesfield. Sir George Young, shadow Leader of the House, is also understood to be taking soundings about running.

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