UK gets new speaker; PM for fresh start

Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged the start of a “new chapter” in British politics, the day after lawmakers elected a new speaker on the promise of reform following a damaging expenses row. Brown was set to unveil legislation to create a new independent regulator for members of parliament (MPs), who he said had been shown by revelations about their lavish spending habits to have “failed” in their public duty.

The scandal has claimed the scalps of about 20 lawmakers in recent weeks, including Michael Martin, who last month became the first speaker of the House of Commons in 300 years to be forced to quit.

MPs elected John Bercow, a member of the main opposition Conservative party, as Martin’s successor in a secret ballot on Monday night. The 46-year-old promised to be a “clean-break candidate” who was willing and ready for reform.

The speaker is the public face of the lower house of parliament and the role involves chairing debates and curbing the famously rowdy behaviour of MPs.

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