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I know it has been a tradition of sorts for the Speaker to alternate between the main parties, but isn't it rather dangerous for the Conservatives to have allowed a Labour MP (Hoyle) to become speaker, given that Bercow has often been the target of ire in the Conservative-leaning press, especially in regards to his Brexit related-decisions?

Or did the Conservatives just not have the votes given those who have been ejected from the party's parliamentary group (although some apparently have been allowed back) to impose a speaker of their own choosing?

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The tradition of alternating parties is often mentioned, but is not really true. As Wikipedia's list of Speakers shows, it was broken most recently in 2000 when Michael Martin followed Betty Boothroyd (both Labour), and before that in 1959, 1965 and 1971, when there were 4 Conservative Speakers in a row! Even before then, this tradition is broken more than it's observed.

In any case, Commons standing orders mandate that the Deputy Speakers are elected in such a way that the balance of the parties is not affected. So when John Bercow (Conservative) was elected, the deputies consisted of one Conservative and two Labour.

Now that Lindsay Hoyle (Labour) has been elected, a new Conservative deputy will be elected - assuming the two other deputies remain in their posts; though note that deputies remain members of their parties, and their elections as MPs are, unlike the Speaker, contested with the other parties.

Regarding any party imposing their choice of Speaker: the Speaker election is done by secret ballot, so there is no way for any party to whip its MPs into voting for any particular candidate.

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  • Note on your last paragraph: that is relatively recent (2001). Prior to that, the whips did order MPs how to vote. The other point worth mentioning is that if the government doesn't have a large majority, the whips usually want the speaker elected from the other party (because it removes a vote from them). – Martin Bonner supports Monica Nov 13 '19 at 15:50
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    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica: agree on the first point. On the second, I have to disagree, as a new deputy will be elected from the Conservative benches, so everything will balance out - though I don't know how soon in the new Parliament the deputy election will take place. – Steve Melnikoff Nov 13 '19 at 17:45
  • That's wrong. Assume an exactly split Commons: 5 lab 5 con. 2 of each are deputies. No speaker currently elected. That leaves 3 of each voting. Now a lab is elected speaker. That leaves 2 voting labs, and THREE voting Tories. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Nov 13 '19 at 21:45
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    @MartinBonnersupportsMonica: there are 3 deputies, not 4, currently 2L and 1C (as Bercow was previously a Conservative). So that leaves 3L and 4C voting. Lab deputy becomes speaker, so a new Con deputy is elected, leaving 3L and 3C voting. – Steve Melnikoff Nov 13 '19 at 22:21
  • Right. I'd missed that it was THREE deputies. – Martin Bonner supports Monica Nov 14 '19 at 6:17

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