The number of MPs past and present paying tribute to Andrew Tyrie upon his announcement that he will not seek re-election to Parliament is a sure sign of the esteem in which he is held by his colleagues, and the level of cross-party respect there is for the job he has done as chairman of the Treasury select committee, Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and Liaison committee.
There cannot be many MPs in recent times to have made such an impact in Parliament without ever having held ministerial office and there is no doubt he will be a hard act to follow, particularly in his Treasury committee role.
That being said, someone will have to step up the plate and carry on the work that Tyrie has led over the past seven years. Assuming the polls are correct and we are heading for another Conservative government, the chairmanship of the TSC will pass to one of Tyrie’s Conservative colleagues.
While MPs are unlikely to publicly declare their candidacy for the TSC chair until they have safely navigated their own safe passage back to Westminster, there is no doubt a number of MPs will already be thinking about a tilt at one of the most sought after roles in Parliament.
Securing a select committee chairmanship is no longer a matter of appealing to party whips, but rather is a position decided by a ballot of MPs from all parties – no easy feat.
Here are five potential candidates to keep an eye on when Parliament returns after the general election:
Steve Baker (Wycombe, Majority 14,856)
The longest serving current member of the TSC, having joined the committee in May 2014, Baker may well throw his hat in the ring. He was a leading player in the Leave campaign as chair of Conservatives for Britain and would welcome the opportunity to hold the Treasury’s feet to the fire as it plays a key role in the Brexit negotiations. He is likely to find significant support among fellow Conservative Brexiteers, but may be less appealing to colleagues on the Opposition benches.
Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset, Majority 12,749)
Rees-Mogg joined the TSC after the 2015 general election and currently also serves on the European Scrutiny Committee. Like Baker, he is on the right of the Conservative Party and is a strong supporter of Brexit, so may not enjoy high levels of cross-party support. Nevertheless, he is one of Parliament’s characters, has a background in finance and is an encyclopaedia on Parliamentary protocol. He would certainly make for entertaining viewing in the TSC chair.
Stephen Crabb (Preseli Pembrokeshire, Majority 4,969)
After his ill-fated run for the Conservative party leadership last summer, Crabb’s stock as a rising star of the Conservative party has fallen following tabloid stories about his personal life. Might he see a high-profile select committee chairmanship as a route back to the frontline of politics? He served on the TSC in 2008-09 and served in government from 2010-16, including two years in the Cabinet. An outside bet perhaps, but one to keep an eye on.
Nicky Morgan (Loughborough, Majority 9,183)
A former economic and financial secretary to the Treasury, Morgan has certainly not disappeared quietly to the backbenches since being sacked as Education Secretary by Theresa May. Morgan is an outspoken Remainer and has been working closely with colleagues on the Opposition benches pushing for a softer Brexit, so could pick up significant cross-party support. Whether she would garner enough support on her own benches is a different matter, but Morgan is someone who could well be a contender.
Stephen Hammond (Wimbledon, Majority 12,619)
Hammond has been on the TSC since July 2015 and is a former Minister. He also chairs the APPGs on Financial Markets and Services and Infrastructure and had a career in fund management and investment banking. He would not be the most high profile candidate, but is certainly well qualified and could be someone to come through the middle if the candidates around him were more divisive.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of potential candidates – who is to say an older head such as Ken Clarke or Iain Duncan Smith might not fancy a tilt?
Either way, when the election is out of the way, the battle for the TSC chair will be another fascinating electoral contest.
Simon Fitzpatrick is an account director at Cicero Group