UK House of Commons' Speaker resigns

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Speaker of the British House of Commons, the Right Honourable Michael Martin MP, told Parliament that he will "relinquish the office of Speaker on Sunday, 21st June". This preempts a vote of confidence in him that was scheduled later this week. He will also step down as the Member of Parliament for Glasgow North East, which will cause a by-election.

The Right Honourable Michael Martin MP in 2008
Image: SouthbankSteve.

In his statement to Parliament, Martin said he is standing down "in order that unity can be maintained," as he believes "that the House is at its best when it is united."

Martin, Speaker since 2000, yesterday made a statement to the House of Commons, when he apologised both personally and on behalf of the House over the recent scandal involving the expenses of Members of Parliament.

David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, then took questions, and noted the House would give tributes at a later date, as the Speaker said he had nothing else to say on the subject. Bob Spink, Independant MP for Castle Point, however, gave the Speaker "the warmest possible tribute," a sentiment shared by other members who cried "hear hear."

On the other hand, Nick Robinson, political editor for the BBC, said on his blog that "in the end, he had no choice" but to resign and claimed "he failed to see this crisis coming."

This is the first time since 1695 that a Speaker has been effectively forced out of office, when Sir John Trevor was found guilty of accepting a bribe.