Commons Speaker faces calls to resign over Gaza ceasefire vote chaos

MPs stormed out after Sir Lindsay Hoyle broke convention by selecting a Labour amendment for debate.

The SNP were ultimately unable to vote on their proposition calling for ‘an immediate ceasefire’, which was meant to be the focus of their Opposition Day

The Speaker of the House of Commons is under pressure over his handling of a debate on Gaza, which resulted in MPs passing Labour’s amendment calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” amid scenes of chaos.

The motion was approved but only after Sir Lindsay Hoyle upended parliamentary convention by selecting Labour’s bid to amend an SNP motion on the Israel-Hamas war.

His decision sparked fury from the Conservative and SNP benches, who accused him of helping Sir Keir Starmer avoid another damaging revolt over the Middle East issue.

Sir Lindsay returned to the Commons and issued an emotional apology after a day of acrimony but continues to face calls to resign.

Over 50 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion tabled by a Tory MP declaring no confidence in the Speaker.

All six of the Tory party’s 1922 committee have now signed the no confidence motion – Graham Brady, Bob Blackman, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, Gary Sambrook, Eddie Hughes and William Wragg.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt launched a bitter attack on Sir Lindsay, claiming he had “hijacked” the debate and “undermined the confidence” of the House in its long-standing rules.

They could come face to face again on Thursday when she delivers a business statement in the Commons.

The row erupted when Sir Lindsay decided the Commons would first vote on Labour’s amendment before moving on to further votes on the SNP’s original motion and then a Government proposal seeking an “immediate humanitarian pause”.

He disregarded warnings from the House of Commons Clerk over the unprecedented nature of the move, which provoked uproar in the chamber.

Sir Lindsay said his decision was based on concern about “the security of all members and their families”.

“I wanted to do the best…by every member of this house,” he said.

He suggested he had hoped a vote on all amendments would prevent further division over the wording of different calls for a ceasefire.

After the SNP tabled a similar motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in November, many Labour MPs who abstained feared for their safety after protests in their constituencies.

Conservative MP Charles Walker raised the safety concerns in the commons on Wednesday night, saying “people are frightened”.

“Members of Parliament now feel they have to vote in a certain way to protect their safety, and the safety of their family”, he said.

As the house descended into chaos, the SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn demanded Sir Lindsay be dragged back into the chamber to answer questions, bellowing “where on earth is the Speaker of the House of Commons?”

Labour’s amendment ended up passing unopposed without a formal vote after the Government pulled its participation.

It marked the first time the Commons formally backed an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, though the Government does not have to adopt the position as the vote is not binding.

The SNP were ultimately unable to vote on their proposition calling for “an immediate ceasefire”, which was meant to be the focus of their Opposition Day.

SNP MPs and some Conservatives walked out of the debate in protest at the Speaker’s handling of the matter in extraordinary scenes.

Amid shouts of “resign”, he said: “I thought I was doing the right thing and the best thing, and I regret it, and I apologise for how it’s ended up.”

He said he took the decision to allow all sides to “express their views” and that he was “very, very concerned about the security” of MPs who have received personal threats over their stance on the Gaza conflict.

But SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said he would take significant convincing that the Speaker’s position was “not now intolerable” and claimed his party had been treated with “complete and utter contempt”.

He also called for an investigation as he appeared to suggest Sir Keir and Labour’s chief whip had exerted pressure on Sir Lindsay, a former Labour MP, ahead of his decision to pick the party’s amendment for debate.

Had the Speaker not chosen it, Labour MPs in favour of a ceasefire could have been pushed to back the SNP motion, in a repeat of a major rebellion against the Labour leadership in November.

Responding to the events in Parliament, Oxfam’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Katy Chakrabortty, said: “It is a disgrace that there has been so much playground politics in Parliament this evening, while so many lives are at stake.

“The people of Gaza can’t wait for our politicians to stop squabbling.

“Much of the country lies in ruins and Rafah, where many Palestinian families have been forced to flee, is under threat of a full-scale military offensive.”

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