From the archive: Speaker bows out

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The Scotsman, 13 July 2000

THE race to be the next Speaker of the House of Commons started prematurely yesterday, with the shock announcement that Betty Boothroyd will quit the influential role in a matter of weeks. Mrs Boothroyd, 70, a Labour MP, was not expected to retire until after the next general election, but will be replaced before the start of the next parliamentary session. Convention dictates that the next Speaker should be a Conservative, but there was a growing groundswell of support last night for Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Northeast Fife, leading to the prospect of a political battle over the succession. If Mr Campbell takes on the role he would be the first Liberal Democrat in the chair and the first Liberal Speaker since 1928. William Hill has installed Sir Alan Haselhurst as even money favourite to succeed Miss Boothroyd, with Menzies Campbell at 3-1, Sir George Young 7-2, Alan Beith 10-1 and John McWilliam 20-1.