Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle facing calls to resign after Gaza debate descends into chaos

More than 30 MPs have signed a motion of no confidence in the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle

Jane Dalton
Wednesday 21 February 2024 22:51 GMT
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle apologises after controversial decision on Gaza ceasefire motion

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is under pressure to stand down as speaker following chaos in the Commons when Conservative and SNP MPs walked out in protest at his handling of the much-talked about Gaza ceasefire vote.

A total of 33 MPs have signed a motion of no confidence in the speaker after his actions, accused of favouring Labour, prompted anger.

Sir Lindsay had deviated from long-standing procedures to allow a Labour amendment to the SNP motion on a ceasefire to be debated and voted on.

He later made a statement to apologise profusely, saying he regretted what had happened – but it was met by jeers from some quarters of the chamber, and he’s now under pressure to resign from the job he has held since November 2019.

Among those to sign the Early Day Motion of no confidence are Tories Lee Anderson, Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Brendan Clarke-Smith.

Announcing procedures on an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict, Sir Lindsay had been expected to select just the government amendment seeking an “immediate humanitarian pause” to the fighting.

But he defied convention in deciding the Commons would first vote on Labour’s amendment before moving on to further votes on the SNP’s original motion – and then the government’s proposals only if either of the first two failed to garner enough support.

House of Commons Clerk Tom Goldsmith had warned him about the unprecedented nature of his decision, saying he felt compelled to point out that long-established conventions were not being followed.

The move sparked fury from the Conservative and SNP benches.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt pulled the government’s participation, claiming Sir Lindsay had hijacked the debate and undermined the confidence of the House in its long-standing rules by selecting Labour’s amendment first.

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 said he was disappointed that a “pantomime” in the Commons was detracting from the crisis in Gaza.

SNP MP Pete Wishart called for the speaker to go, saying: “I think it’s intolerable, and it’s really difficult to know how you could remain in the chair after what happened today.

“Now I know he came down and took responsibility and said sorry, but quite frankly it’s not good enough.”

He added: “I think (it) requires him to look at his situation as Speaker of the House of Commons.

“And I know that nearly all of my colleagues have signed the early day motion asking for him to go, and speaking to several Conservative colleagues this evening, I know that a great number of them have also signed that, too.”

He added: “I cannot see a route for him to be able to command the respect of the whole of the House which will enable (him) to be in that chair.”

Mr Flynn also called for an investigation as he appeared to suggest Labour figures had exerted pressure on the speaker.

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