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Burns eyes Deputy Speaker post
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 a s one of Speaker John Bercow's deputies after he was charged on September 10.
Evans, the MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, has appeared in the dock 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 h as clashed with Speaker Mr Bercow on more than one occasion in the House of Commons.
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.
In July this year, the pair had another row as Mr Bercow ordered Mr Burns to stop suggesting that MPs were ''chuntering'' in the Commons.
The Speaker said it might have appeared ''inappropriate'' that Mr Burns was making such suggestions given that he was an example of someone who chunters ''extremely noisily''.
The Commons Speaker interjected three times during a speech by Mr Burns, finally advising: ''You are a slow learner. You are a late developer but you've got to try and grasp the point.
''It ill behoves a right honourable gentleman (Mr Burns) who regularly shouts and hollers and chunters and accuses other people of all sorts of things from a sedentary position to make something of the fact that somebody mutters from a sedentary position.
''What I very gently advise you is to try and raise the game and operate at the level of events."
Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries will also stand for the position, claiming her record as an independent-minded MP will boost her chances.
She said: "I have got a proven track record of achievement in Parliament. As deputy speaker I would have to be politically impartial ... I think given my own personal vote record and position on various issues I have shown I am impartial.
"I'm probably one of the most independently-minded MPs."
Ms Dorries had the Conservative whip restored earlier this year after apologising for taking part without permission in the ITV gameshow I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here!
The former nurse, a constant critic of the Prime Minister, said she appeared on the show in a bid to raise awareness of political issues.
Her strained relationship with the Tory leadership - she once described Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne as "two posh boys who don't know the price of milk" - might help sway Labour MPs to support her but her outspoken views on issues including abortion could prevent her attracting widespread support from the Opposition.
The process for the election of a replacement for Mr Evans is expected to be announced when MPs return to the Commons next week.