House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has revealed he will stand down as Speaker and MP at the next election or on 31 October, whichever comes first.
The 56-year-old announced in Parliament that his 10-year “tenure” was approaching its conclusion and that serving as Commons Speaker had been his “greatest honour and privilege”.
In the case of no early election, the former Conservative MP said 31 October would be the “least disruptive and most democratic” date for him to stand aside.
Since taking over from the late Michael Martin as Speaker in 2009, Bercow has been central to a number of controversies.
Many Brexiteers have questioned the Speaker’s impartiality on the issue of Europe; Bercow has also been criticised for not doing more to tackle allegations of bullying and harassment in the House of Commons.
Mr Bercow himself has been forced to deny allegations of mistreating members of his own staff.
The Speaker has also gone through run-ins with fellow MPs, most notoriously with former Conservative MP for Chelmsford, Sir Simon Burns, who called him a “stupid, sanctimonious dwarf” in 2010.
Speaking to the Chamber, he said that he had made his decision to stand down at the last election.
“At the 2017 election, I promised my wife and children that it would be my last.” Mr Bercow said.
“This is a pledge that I intend to keep. If the House votes tonight for an early general election, my tenure as Speaker and MP will end when this Parliament ends.
“If the House does not so vote I have concluded that the least disruptive and most democratic course of action would be for me to stand down at the close of business on Thursday, October 31.”
Struggling to keep his emotions under control, Mr Bercow said he had been proud to serve the role of Speaker.
“Throughout my time as Speaker, I have sought to increase the relative authority of this legislature for which I will make absolutely no apology to anyone, anywhere, at any time.”
John Bercow was subjected to a standing ovation from the Labour benches after his declaration; most Tory MPs remained seated.
Potential candidates to replace Mr Bercow
The Speaker is chosen by all MPs in the House by secret ballot. There have already been a number of candidacies to emerge following Mr Bercow’s statement.
Commons deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle announced his candidacy on Twitter; Eleanor Laing, also a deputy speaker, Chris Bryant and Sir Edward Leigh all threw their names into the hat too.
BBC News claim that Harriet Harman, the former Labour deputy leader and longest-serving female MP in the House, could be a possible contender.