Two former schools ministers to run for education committee chair

Robin Walker and Jonathan Gullis throw their hats in the ring to succeed Robert Halfon

Robin Walker and Jonathan Gullis throw their hats in the ring to succeed Robert Halfon

Former schools ministers Robin Walker and Jonathan Gullis will run to become the next chair of the Parliamentary education committee.

Walker, who resigned in July over Boris Johnson’s leadership and Gullis, who was fired last week in Rishi Sunak’s first reshuffle, have both confirmed they will seek election to the role.

David Simmonds, a former committee member who used to chair the Local Government Association children and young people board, has also confirmed he will run for the job.

The chair position is vacant after Robert Halfon, who has served in the role since 2017, returned to the Department for Education as a minister. It is understood he is returning to his old skills brief.

Halfon’s place must be taken by a Conservative. So far Gullis, Walker and Simmonds have confirmed they are running.

According to the Guido Fawkes blog, ex-children’s minister Brendan Clarke-Smith and current committee member Caroline Ansell are also putting themselves forward. Both were approached for confirmation.

Nominations for a new chair opened today and will close on November 15. Each MP must gather at least 15 signatures from fellow Conservatives. If there is more than one candidate, a vote of MPs will be held on November 16.

In the meantime, the committee can appoint an interim chair, who is usually an existing committee member and the longest-serving member from the opposition party. This would be Labour MP Ian Mearns.

Evidence sessions already in the diary will still go ahead, but all other business is put on hold until a permanent chair is elected.

Gullis left his DfE role after just 50 days last week following the announcement that former long-serving schools minister Nick Gibb had returned.

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