Speaker faces no-confidence motion after Commons Gaza row

Starting with a dispute over Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s selection of a Labor amendment, an SNP opposition day culminated in a mass exodus of Members of Parliament.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, apologized to members of parliament following the pandemonium that ensued in the chamber over a motion advocating for a cessation of hostilities in Gaza.

The SNP chose to debate the Israel-Hamas conflict on Wednesday, which was designated as opposition day. The party aimed to convince members of parliament to support its demands for an urgent cessation of hostilities.

However, an uproar from Conservative MPs resulted from Sir Lindsay’s controversial decision to allow a Labor amendment to be presented to the House. Consequently, the government vowed to “play no further part” in the proceedings, and the SNP was not even granted a vote on its original proposal.

Sir Lindsay returned to the House of Commons to face his detractors after Conservative and SNP lawmakers rushed out of the chamber in protest. He issued an apology for “how it all turned out” and claimed “responsibility” for his conduct.

Stephen Flynn, leader of the SNP, stated that he would “require substantial persuasion” to change his mind and accept the Speaker’s stance, which was “not at this time intolerable.”

Furthermore, as of now, 33 Members of Parliament (MPs) representing both his party and the Tories have endorsed a motion of no confidence in Sir Lindsay. While this number is not yet sufficient to remove him from office, the motion may gain momentum in the coming days.

Labour’s Stance Sparks Parliamentary Dispute

The debate on Wednesday was anticipated to bring an end to days of controversy concerning whether Labor would alter its stance on the Middle East conflict.

Speaker faces no-confidence motion after Commons Gaza row
Sir Lindsay returned to the House of Commons to face his detractors after Conservative and SNP lawmakers rushed out of the chamber in protest

Initially, the party expressed its endorsement of the government’s position, advocating for a cessation of hostilities instead of a ceasefire due to its scepticism regarding the sustainability of the latter.

Nevertheless, following the SNP’s choice to force a vote on the matter in the House of Commons, Labor went one step further by proposing an amendment that demanded an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.” However, it remained cautious in its initial stipulations, requiring both sides to surrender their weapons and Israeli hostages to be released.

Wednesday saw the emergence of a new dispute following Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle’s departure from procedure by putting Labor’s amendment to a vote; opposition parties are typically not permitted to amend resolutions proposed by the government.

Labor sources claimed party officials exerted pressure on former Labor MP and current Speaker Sir Lindsay to choose the item, but a party spokesman refuted the allegation.

Nevertheless, to avert a rebellion from his backbenchersโ€”who might have supported the SNP’s motion in the absence of a Labor optionโ€”Tory MPs accused him of making a “blatantly political decision” by selecting the amendment.

Penny Mordaunt, Leader of the House, unexpectedly declared that the government would withdraw its amendment to the SNP’s motion, which merely restated the government’s stance, stating that the Conservatives “would have no further bearing on the decision this House makes regarding the proceedings of today.”

She stated that Sir Lindsay’s choice to support the Labor amendment had “eroded the confidence” of Members of Parliament in parliamentary procedures, “increased tensions in this House regarding a subject that has already generated strong emotions,” and “complicated matters for righteous and honorable members.”

Speaker’s Decision Sparks Parliamentary Drama

The withdrawal, however, resulted in the passage of Labor’s amendment and restricted MPs to voting on the amended motion, thereby precluding any consideration of the SNP’s original proposal in accordance with parliamentary regulations.

As opposed to devoting attention to the significance of the first official endorsement of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza by the UK parliament, the aftermath centered on the consequences of Sir Lindsay’s earlier decisions; several Conservative and SNP MPs vacated the chamber in protest.

Mr. Flynn of the Scottish National Party demanded that the Speaker appear in the House of Commons and questioned Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton: “In what manner shall we convey to him that our votes and opinions in this House are inconsequential?”

Furthermore, following some delay tactics on the part of members of parliament, the Speaker seemingly extended his apologies to members of parliament from all parties.

While certain Members of Parliament demanded resignations, Sir Lindsay restated his previous rationales for supporting the Labor amendment, stating that he had been safeguarding the safety of Members of Parliament and ensuring that all viable options were presented for a vote.

He further stated, “I believed I was acting in the most ethical and prudent manner possible; I now deeply regret my decision and extend my sincerest apologies for the outcome.”

“I accept full responsibility for my conduct.”

However, although Mr. Flynn acknowledged the Speaker’s apology’s intent, he stated that “an SNP opposition day became a Labor Party opposition day” as a consequence of his actions.

He expressed concern that his colleagues and he in the Scottish National Party are being treated with total disregard.

“It will be extremely difficult to persuade me that your current position is intolerable.”

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