MP stands down as Minister to run for post of Deputy Speaker

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MP Simon Burns has stood down from his role as Transport Minister to run for the position of Deputy Speaker.

The Conservative confirmed his interest as replacing Nigel Evans, who resigned as one of Speaker John Bercow’s deputies on September 10.

Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, yesterday appeared at Preston Crown Court for a preliminary hearing where his trial date was fixed.

The 55-year-old is accused of two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape. The charges date from 2002 to earlier this year.

Mr Burns, in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, wrote: “Following our recent conversation, I would like to confirm that I wish to resign from the Government so that I can stand in the forthcoming election for the vacancy to the post of Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. It has been a privilege to serve in your administration for the past three-and-a-half years and I will be forever grateful to you for giving me that opportunity in both the Departments of Health and Transport.

“You can rest assured that I will continue to support your leadership of both the Conservative Party and the Government.”

Mr Cameron told Mr Burns he understood the decision would not have been easy and “one you will have given a huge amount of thought to”.

The PM continued: “After serving the Government so ably for over three years, you will certainly be missed, but I completely understand and respect your decision.

“You have been such a loyal, dedicated and committed colleague over the past three years of Government ... and before that in Opposition where you served as the senior Opposition whip.

“You have brought so much to our team drawing on your considerable parliamentary and political experience. It has been a pleasure to work with you throughout.”

Chelmsford MP Mr Burns has clashed with Speaker Mr Bercow more than once.

In June 2010, Mr Burns – then a Health Minister – apologised after calling the Speaker a “stupid, sanctimonious dwarf”.

Mr Burns made the remarks, along with hand gestures, while seated on the front bench after Mr Bercow rebuked him for failing to face the despatch box when he answered backbenchers’ questions.

Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries will also stand for the position, claiming her record as an independent-minded MP will boost her chances.