THE speaker of the House of Commons has been appointed as Essex University’s new chancellor.

John Bercow, who graduated from the university with a first class degree in politics in 1985, will succeed Shami Chakrabarti who is stepping down following her appointment to the shadow cabinet.

Mr Bercow has been the speaker in the House since 2009 and said he was ecstatic to have been selected by the university’s senate and council.

He said: “I am thrilled and deeply honoured to be appointed chancellor of Essex University.

“As a graduate of the university, I have always had a special place in my heart for Essex.

"Whenever I visit, I feel a surge of excitement and I am reminded of my fond memories of the place which, more than any other place, changed my life.”

Mr Bercow added: “Essex University has a proud record of excellence in research and teaching alike.

“As someone who shares its hunger to innovate, improve and include more people of all backgrounds and nationalities, I am delighted to take up this role at such an exciting time for the university.”

Nominations for chancellor were sought from across the university community including staff, students and alumni with the shortlist containing leading figures from the UK’s cultural and political life.

Chairman of the university’s council David Currie said: “Council members were unanimous in their support of John Bercow’s appointment as our next chancellor.

“He is a leading figure in the UK’s public life and he will be a great champion of the university in the years ahead.”

Although Mr Bercow serves as the Conservative MP for Buckingham, his role as speaker means he must remain impartial in the House of Commons.

He has recently been elected for a third successive term.

Mr Bercow has been an advocate for the university for many years and was one of the signatories of the Commons motion to commemorate the university’s 40th anniversary.

The original launch for the university’s 50th anniversary took place at the Speaker’s House.

Earlier this year, the keen tennis player officially opened the new tennis courts on the Colchester Campus.

He also hosted a memorial event for the life of professor Tony King in Parliament in June 2017 and received an honorary degree from the university in 2010.

Vice-chancellor professor Anthony Forster said: “John exemplifies the Essex spirit and he has been a passionate supporter of our university for many years.

"He brings to the role of chancellor tremendous experience and a knowledge of what it is really like to be the first in your family to go to university and how higher education can inspire you.”