Speaker refuses to grant second Gaza debate as SNP demands investigation into Labour ‘dirty tricks’

Sir Chris Bryant said he was encouraged by Labour figures to delay parliamentary proceedings last Wednesday before vote on the SNP’s motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza

Archie Mitchell
Monday 26 February 2024 16:48 GMT
Comments
Chris Bryant admits disrupting debate before Gaza ceasefire vote

The speaker has refused to grant the SNP a second debate on a humanitarian ceasefire as the party demanded an investigation into the chaos surrounding the Gaza ceasefire vote last week.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said he won’t allow a requested emergency debate on Gaza because the government will bring forward a “relevant statement” tomorrow.

The SNP walked out of the chamber in fury last week after Sir Lindsay selected a Labour amendment to their opposition debate calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.

The speaker’s refusal to grant another debate on the issue is likely to stoke ire from the SNP, who form part of 70 MPs that signed a so-called early-day motion tabled by a Tory MP declaring no confidence in the speaker.

Shadow digital minister Sir Chris Bryant said he was encouraged by Labour figures to stall parliamentary proceedings last Wednesday ahead of a vote on the SNP’s motion calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict.

The disruption was aimed at giving Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer time to convince Sir Lindsay to allow MPs a vote on Labour’s amendment to the SNP motion.

The SNP accused Labour of using “every dirty trick in the Westminster book” to wreck the vote.

Under Commons precedent, the Labour amendment would not normally have been put to a vote because the so-called opposition day debate was to be led by the SNP.

Stephen Flynn MP has written to opposition leaders in a bid to get backing for a fresh ceasefire motion
Stephen Flynn MP has written to opposition leaders in a bid to get backing for a fresh ceasefire motion (PA)

Sir Lindsay said he eventually allowed Labour’s amendment so that MPs under intense pressure from constituents over the conflict could vote without fearing for their safety.

But SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has accused him of hijacking the SNP’s opposition day debate to favour Labour – his old party.

He has also called for Sir Lindsay to be removed and said the SNP no longer has confidence in the Commons speaker.

Sir Keir has denied threatening Sir Lindsay with removal as speaker after the general election in order to get Labour’s amendment through.

But on Monday, the SNP demanded a “full, independent investigation” into why Labour was able to “deliberately wreck” the SNP’s motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

It came after Sir Chris was asked about whether he was “put up” to filibustering a debate in parliament while Sir Keir was meeting the speaker or whether he “took it upon himself”.

“A bit of both, if I’m honest,” he told Channel 4.

Sir Chris added: “I think the whole day was grubby, and we need a system that doesn’t allow people to manipulate the rules to be able to get what they want.”

And then, when it was put to him that he had done exactly what he was complaining about, Sir Chris laughed in acceptance.

The SNP said it followed a series of “damning” revelations over the weekend, including claims Sir Keir used the time bought by Labour filibustering to “barge his way” uninvited into a meeting with the speaker shortly before Sir Lindsay allowed a vote on the party’s amendment.

The party’s Cabinet Office spokesperson Kirsty Blackman said: “These damning revelations show Sir Keir Starmer pulled every dirty trick in the Westminster book to wreck the SNP’s vote on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

“After months of opposing an immediate ceasefire, and even defending Israel’s right to withhold water and power from Gaza, it’s shameful that Starmer sought to derail this important debate – with his party filibustering, bullying the speaker, and seeking to water down the motion by removing any mention of the collective punishment of the people in Gaza.

“Starmer’s party has been caught red-handed following the admission by Chris Bryant. There must now be a full, independent investigation into the appalling behaviour of Keir Starmer and his colleagues, who are no better than the Tories when it comes to manipulating the broken Westminster system.”

Since the events of last Wednesday, Sir Lindsay has come under pressure amid accusations he helped Sir Keir avoid another damaging revolt over the Middle East issue by selecting Labour’s amendment.

Tory MP Will Wragg tabled a motion of no confidence in Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle
Tory MP Will Wragg tabled a motion of no confidence in Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle (ITV)

The Commons speaker broke convention to allow a vote on Sir Keir Starmer’s amendment to an SNP motion, which itself called for an end to the bloody conflict.

Sir Keir had been warned he faced the biggest rebellion of his leadership if MPs were not offered a vote on Labour’s amendment.

Under significant pressure from constituents, and amid frustration at the Labour Party’s approach to the conflict in Gaza, tens of Sir Keir’s MPs were prepared to rebel against the leader and back the SNP’s calls for a ceasefire.

But, in what his top adviser called a “departure from the long-established convention”, Sir Lindsay allowed MPs to vote on three motions addressing the conflict, by the SNP, Labour and Rishi Sunak’s government.

Labour’s motion was eventually passed without a vote, while the government’s amendment and the original SNP wording were not voted on.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in