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MPs to vote on fresh Gaza ceasefire motion after Commons chaos

The SNP says it will take up speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s offer of a meaningful debate on a fresh ceasefire motion following criticism of his handling of the previous Commons debate on the subject

Chris McKeon
Sunday 25 February 2024 00:13 GMT
David Lammy calls for 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire

MPs are once more set to debate calling for a ceasefire in Gaza after a previous attempt descended into chaos and led to calls for the Commons speaker to resign.

The SNP said it will take up speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s offer of a meaningful debate on a fresh ceasefire motion following criticism of his handling of the previous Commons debate on the subject.

Last Wednesday’s angry scenes in the Commons meant that an SNP motion calling for a ceasefire and accusing Israel of subjecting Gaza to “collective punishment”, a war crime, was not voted on.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn was furious after the Commons speaker allowed MPs to vote on a Labour ceasefire motion (UK Parliament/AFP/Getty)

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said his party will seek to “move the Gaza ceasefire debate forward” by tabling a motion that will press parliament to support “concrete actions” to achieve an end to hostilities.

He said: “More than 29,000 Palestinian children, women and men have been killed, huge swathes of Gaza have been obliterated, and the population faces a worsening humanitarian crisis.

“The SNP will seek to refocus the discussion away from the Westminster circus and onto what really matters – doing everything we can to actually secure an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.”

He continued: “While the appalling spectacle at Westminster has been deeply unedifying, some progress has been made. Public and SNP pressure has forced the next prime minister, Sir Keir Starmer, into a U-turn – now we need to work together to force the UK government to change its position, too.”

The SNP said it will publish details of its new motion following discussions with the speaker on the specific terms of the debate and the vote.

It is not clear what form the new debate will take. On Thursday, Sir Lindsay offered the SNP an emergency debate under the Commons’ Standing Order 24, but this may not satisfy the party as such a debate would not afford it the opportunity to express no confidence in the speaker.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s amendment on support for a ceasefire was passed by MPs (PA)

There is also limited scope for the SNP to put forward a motion that will force the government to take concrete action towards achieving a ceasefire in Gaza.

Mr Flynn added: “The SNP’s calls for the UK to back an immediate ceasefire have never just been about the symbolism of having a strong and clear position against the hostilities – they have always been about forcing the UK government to use every lever it has to achieve an immediate ceasefire.”

A fresh debate will renew the political headache that Labour leader Sir Keir was able to avoid on Wednesday.

Many of his MPs are likely to vote in favour of a ceasefire, but Sir Keir will be keen to avoid his party supporting a motion that appears to be too one-sided or includes outright accusations of war crimes.

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