Pressure mounts on Speaker Lindsay Hoyle after Commons chaos following Gaza ceasefire vote

Conservative and SNP politicians were furious at the way Sir Lindsay defied parliamentary convention by selecting a Labour amendment on the SNP's Gaza ceasefire motion

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 issued an apology after a day of acrimony but continues to face calls to resign.

More than 30 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion tabled by a Tory MP declaring no confidence in the Speaker.

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.

MPs walked out of the chamber in protest at Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Credit: PA

Labour's amendment calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza passed, heading off any Labour revolt on the ceasefire.

SNP Westminster Leader Stephen Flynn has called for an investigation into the "circus" following the debate led by his party.

The SNP leader suggested that Sir Keir Starmer and Sir Lindsay "colluded to block Parliament voting on the SNP motion for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza."

The expectation had been that despite Labour shifting their stance by tabling an amendment calling for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire", MPs would not even be able to vote on it and would be forced to choose between the SNP's and the government's wording instead.

Instead, Sir Lindsay decided the Commons would first vote on Labour's calls for an "immediate ceasefire" before the SNP motion.

A friend of of Lindsay Hoyle, a senior MP, told ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston he had warned the Speaker that "he has lost the confidence of MPs, and should 'resign before being pushed'."

Common's leader Penny Mordaunt claimed Sir Lindsay had "hijacked" the debate and "undermined the confidence" of the House by selecting Labour's amendment to the SNP motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Commons Speaker was warned by his clerks that the move was unprecedented, and appeared in the chamber towards the end of Wednesday evening to apologise to MPs about how events had unfolded.

Sir Lindsay faced calls to "resign" as he apologised to the Commons.

“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 told the Commons.

“I do take responsibility for my actions, and that’s why I want to meet with the key players who have been involved.”

Designated as an opposition day for the SNP, which chose to debate the Israel-Hamas war, Mr Flynn said it had been "turned into a Labour Party opposition day," and his party had been treated with "complete and utter contempt."

Mr Flynn said: "You were warned by the clerks of the House that your decision could lead to the SNP not having a vote on our very own opposition day."

"I will take significant convincing that your position is not now intolerable."

Speaking after the vote, Mr Flynn said: "Today’s shameful events show Westminster is utterly broken.“This should have been the chance for the UK Parliament to do the right thing and vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel - instead it turned into a Westminster circus.“It is a disgrace that Sir Keir Starmer and the Speaker colluded to block Parliament voting on the SNP motion for an immediate ceasefire and against the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

Sir Lindsay, who was first elected as a Labour MP but followed tradition following his election as Speaker by relinquishing his party affiliation, was accused of upending long-standing parliamentary conventions under which rival opposition amendments to an opposition day debate are not usually chosen alongside government amendments.

Amid the fury, 33 Conservative and SNP MPs have tabled a motion of no confidence in his speakership.

Conservative MP William Wragg, who called for the Speaker to resign, later tried to make the House of Commons sit in private but MPs rejected the proposal.

What does it mean for Labour?

Labour’s amendment was approved without any division to be voted on.

The developments meant Sir Keir Starmer avoided another revolt over the Middle East issue.

In an apparent attempt to prevent Wednesday’s vote from reopening divisions in the party, the Labour leadership on Tuesday put forward its own wording, calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

Labour’s motion emphasises that this involves both sides agreeing to lay down their arms and the return of all hostages taken by Hamas militants, and calls for a diplomatic process for achieving a two-state solution and a lasting peace.

The original SNP motion is shorter, calling for “an immediate ceasefire”, the release of all hostages held by Hamas and “an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people” following Hamas’s October 7 attacks.

The Commons debate took place as thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators took part in a rally in Parliament Square.

The commotion in Parliament drew widespread criticism, with Palestinian ambassador to the UK Husam Zomlot telling LBC: “It’s very disgraceful. Today we have seen British politics at its worst.”

The Labour leadership had been concerned about the prospect of scenes witnessed in November repeating themselves, when a similar SNP ceasefire motion led to 56 MPs rebelling against the party and ten frontbenchers resigning.

The Conservatives had called for an "immediate humanitarian pause" and say that Israel has the "right to self-defence".

The shift in stance from the Labour party on Tuesday coincided with the US government toughening their wording on the conflict, as they called for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, in a draft UN Security Council resolution.

Previously the Americans had avoided the word "ceasefire" during UN votes on the war, but the new resolution calls for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, linked to the release of all hostages.

However, the US also vetoed a rival Algerian-drafted resolution asking for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, over concerns it could jeopardise its ongoing negotiations with Egypt, Israel and Qatar.

The Prince of Wales also intervened on Tuesday, calling for an end to fighting "as soon as possible" and increased humanitarian support for Gaza.

How much did the vote actually mean?

More than 29,000 people have now died in Gaza since Hamas carried out attacks in Israel on October 7, and it's unlikely infighting between UK opposition parties will have any impact on the actions of the Israeli government.

Instead, the motion tabled by the SNP is seen by many as an attempt to divide the Labour party, in the same way it did in November when ten frontbenchers resigned over it.

The vote matters in the UK because of what it says about the Labour leader, as he tries to strike a balance between condemning the violence in Gaza and supporting Israel's right to defend itself and get its hostages back.

Sir Keir made it his mission to root out antisemitism in the party, after a report by the UK's human rights watchdog found Labour responsible for "unlawful" acts of harassment and discrimination under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a 'ceasefire that lasts' in the Middle East while speaking in Glasgow. Credit: PA

However, Sir Keir's efforts were put under fresh scrutiny last week after the Labour candidate in the Rochdale by-election made controversial comments about Israel, and Labour ultimately withdrew support for him.

On top of this, a February survey found the Labour Party's support amongst British Muslims has fallen drastically during this parliament, as criticism of the party's approach to the war in Gaza continues to mount.

The poll was described by senior Muslims within the Labour party as a "crisis point" for the relationship between the British Muslim community and Labour.

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