There is currently no vacancy - but if there was Deputy Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle couldn’t have wished for a better audition for the top job.
The Chorley MP’s first spell in the chair for Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday won universal applause from both MPs and the media.
But what few people knew was Sir Lindsay put service before self to referee the weekly slanging match between Jeremy Corbin and Theresa May.
He should have been at Buckingham Palace picking up his knighthood from Prince Charles, but he postponed the Royal date to stand in for embattled Speaker John Bercow in the House of Commons.
And what a triumphant debut he made, earning praise from both sides of the chamber for keeping a tight rein on proceedings with his no-nonsense “get on with it” style.
One senior political journalist wrote that Corbyn had been the victor over May on the customs issue, “but stand-in speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle was the real winner.”
Another said he had kept PMQs almost to time by “chivvying along verbose back bench questions - quite a trial run, if a vacancy arises.”
Andrew Neil, who was introducing BBC TV’s live coverage joked: “Thank you Lindsay Hoyle, we now have 20 minutes to fill.” Sir Lindsay’s deft handling of the usually bad-tempered cross-chamber exchanges, was his maiden PMQs in eight years as Deputy Speaker.
But it wasn’t his first difficult session, having won praise for his handling of the 2013 budget debate and a vote on the Brexit Bill. He was also in the chair during the lockdown after last year’s terrorist attack on Parliament.
One correspondentwrote: “Hoyle spoke for the nation when he told toadies asking long-winded planted questions to ‘get on with it.’”
Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, tweeted: “Lindsay Hoyle doing a great job chairing PMQs today.” Patrick Kidd of The Times wrote: “PMQs finished in 38 minutes. Much shorter than usual. And more fun. Tory MPs cheer Lindsay Hoyle and shout ‘more, more’ at him.”
And Jack Maidment, from the Telegraph, was equally complimentary with: “Absolute masterclass in the chair from Sir LIndsay Hoyle during this week’s PMQs. ‘Let’s get on with it,’ he says. Quite right.”
The man normally in charge, Speaker John Bercow, could not be there because was attending the funeral of former Speaker Michael Martin.
The Palace is to reschedule Sir Lindsay’s investiture in the near future.