Candidates to be Speaker of the House of Commons will this afternoon offer their manifestos to fellow MPs. The bookmakers’ favourite is John Bercow, who represents Buckingham.
Mr Bercow is thought by many insiders to be an unlikely favourite, since he enjoys little support on his own Conservative benches. The support comes mainly from Labour MPs who, after two Labour speakers, realise that a third successive speaker drawn from Labour MPs may be inappropriate.
Mr Bercow has, it is said, been informally campaigning for the speakership by disavowing some of his previous right-wing Conservative positions and offering effusive praise to Labour MPs.
If the vote is conducted along strict party lines, with Labour instructed by their whips to support Mr Bercow, he might win.
But the vote is, for the first time in history, secret and it is thought unlikely that enough Labour MPs will support him to compensate for the almost total lack of support he is likely to receive from his fellow Conservative MPs.
The list of candidates includes:
Margaret Beckett (Lab)
Sir Alan Beith (Lib Dem)
John Bercow (Con)
Sir Patrick Cormack (Con)
Parmjit Dhanda (Lab)
Sir Alan Haselhurst (Con)
Sir Michael Lord (Con)
Richard Shepherd (Con)
Ann Widdecombe (Con)
Sir George Young (Con)
The current speaker, Michael Martin will leave the post on 21 June and his successor will be chosen on the following day.