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Ann Widdecombe will stand for the Speakership

WIDDECOMBE ANN NEW ConservativeHome can confirm that Ann Widdecombe is willing to let her name go forward as a candidate to be elected Speaker on 22nd June.

To date, Miss Widdecombe has refused to discuss the idea, pointing out that she has already committed herself to standing down as MP for Maidstone and the Weald at the next election.

She remains committed to stepping down at the election - where a new Conservative candidate, Helen Grant, is already in place - but she has decided that she would be willing to serve as an interim Speaker until the general election. This would then mean that the newly-elected House of Commons would elect a new Speaker on the first day of the new Parliament after the election.

"Ann had not thought of standing for the post, but she has been genuinely overwhelmed by the number of offers of support she has received from across the House," says a friend. "However, she is insistent that she will still stand down at the general election come what may, and her candidacy would therefore strictly be on the basis of being a caretaker until the election. But she is willing for her name to go forward."

I gather that she is minded to set out her stall through an article in a Sunday newspaper (although if you want to do it on ConservativeHome, Ann, please email me).

WIlliam Hill has just installed John Bercow (my choice) as favourite at 2-1, with Sir George Young at 5-1; Alan Beith at 6-1; Frank Field (Tim's choice) at 6-1; and Ann Widdecombe, Vince Cable and Sir Patrick Cormack all at 14-1.

Update: The Guardian also cover the story here.

Jonathan Isaby

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