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Lindsay Hoyle In Turmoil As Critical MPs Call For Him To Go

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle defended his decision to select Labour's amendment (Alamy)

7 min read

Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle is under growing pressure from critics to resign after more than 60 MPs signed a no confidence motion over his handling of an opposition day debate calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Hoyle apologised on Tuesday evening following significant backlash to his unusual decision to select both Labour and Government amendments to the SNP's ceasefire motion. Ordinarily a Government amendment would take precedent, but Hoyle said he believed it was important for MPs to be able "to consider the widest possible range of options," including Labour's call for an “immediate ceasefire” which was “observed by all sides”.

PoliticsHome understands the Speaker’s decision was motivated by a desire to protect the safety of MPs who have faced threats over Labour's hesitance on explicitly calling for a ceasefire until now. A series of protests took place outside the Commons on Wednesday as MPs debated the motion. 

Labour leader Keir Starmer "categorically" denied allegations he threatened the speaker to pick the party's ceasefire amendment on Thursday afternoon.

“I can categorically tell you that I did not threaten the Speaker in any way whatsoever. I simply urged to ensure that we have the broadest possible debate," he said. 

“So that actually the most important thing , which is what do we do about the situation in Gaza, could be properly discussed by MPs with a number of options in front of them.”

Stephen Flynn, SNP leader in Westminster, said in the Commons he believed Hoyle's decision making was "not acceptable" and said he did not have confidence in the Speaker. 

"[The debate] descended in to farce because of a decision you made and you alone made, to ignore the advice given to you by clerks. In doing so on the opposition day of the SNP my colleagues and I were denied the ability to vote on a matter which is of grave concern to us."

The Speaker responded to Flynn and reiterated he made a judgement call to protect the safety of MPs. He told the House he regretted it and said he made a mistake. 

"I would say we can have an SO24 to get an immediate debate because the debate is so important to this House. I will defend every member of this House. Every member matters to me in this House," he said.

"I never ever want to go through a situaton where I pick up a phone to find a friend of whatever side has been murdered by a terrorist."

Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, told the Commons on Thursday that like many of his colleagues he had faced death threats because of the positions he has taken as an MP. He said he was mindful of his safety and did not stand near the edge of tube platforms for that matter. 

Hoyle was in the chamber on Thursday morning despite growing calls from Tory and SNP MPs for him to stand down. So far 67 Conservative backbenchers and SNP MPs have signed Tory MP William Wragg's non-binding motion of no confidence in the Speaker. They include MPs such as Sir Graham Brady, Danny Kruger, Miriam Cates, Matt Warman and Lee Anderson.

The number dropped for the first time from 67 signatures to 66 when Philip Dunne became the first MP to remove his name from the no confidence motion. However, this shortly when back up to 67 signatures. 

Earlier this week the SNP put forward an opposition day motion calling for "an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel". It specifically stated a desire to see an "end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people". Labour, which was keen to avert a rebellion in which its own MPs voted for the SNP's motion put forward its own amendment calling for an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" that is "observed by all sides", which the SNP has subsequently agreed to back. The Government complicated matters by adding its own amendment, urging an "immediate humanitarian pause" with "moves towards a permanent sustainable ceasefire". Government amendments usually take priority over any other party.

But there did not appear to be a strong push from Government to oust Hoyle, while Labour appeared steadfast in its support for the Speaker. 

Influential Conservative MP and former defence secretary Ben Wallace said Hoyle was the best Speaker he had served under while he was in Government and urged him to remain in place.

“I have served under three speakers. Lindsay Hoyle is head and shoulders above the rest," he wrote on X. "He is fair, kind and a protector of back benchers. He is not a bully nor a grandstander nor pompous. He has my full support.”

Labour’s National Campaign Coordinator Pat McFadden also defended Hoyle's decision to allow Labour’s amendment. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Hoyle decided that given the “strong feelings” in the country on the issue he would put “all three propositions that had been advanced”.

“He took that decision to have the widest possible set of options before Parliament,” he added.

But one senior Conservative MP told PoliticsHome they believed the number of MPs formally calling for Hoyle to be removed from the Speaker's chair would rise between 75 to 100 MPs by earlier next week. 

“It looks like he will have to resign,” they said. “I do not believe he chose Labour’s amendment to protect MPs, as Conservatives receive threats all of the time.”

Ceasefire
Palestinian protests continued outside Parliament last night as the House of Commons voted on an amendment for a ceasefire

A minister told PoliticsHome they believed Hoyle was using “double standards”. “Nobody cares when it’s Conservative MPs who are threatened. Sewage? Free School Meals? Or Gaza for that matter? Yet one threat to Labour and he rips up the rule book.”

A Conservative MP on Government payroll also said Labour had “successfully bullied the speaker today and tried to change the way that our democracy works to play to their own core vote," although declined to put their opposition to the Speaker on the record. 

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, claimed Keir Starmer was "weak and fickle" leader and said the Labour party had damaged the Speaker. 

"We have seen in to the heart of Labour's leadership. Nothing is more important than the interests of the Labour Party," she said. 

"The Labour party before principle. The Labour party before individual rights. The Labour party before reputation and honour of the decent man that sits in Speaker's chair."

Backbench MP Danny Kruger, co-chair of the New Conservatives, on X, formerly known as Twitter, said Hoyle was “decent man” but claimed his position was untenable after he “allowed Labour to use the Islamist threat to change the way our democracy works.”

“Like the Speaker, I daresay Starmer wants to do the right thing. But like the Speaker he showed weakness and partisanship yesterday,” he added. “This was a harbinger of what a Labour government would bring: extremists de facto in charge, and the subversion of democracy.”

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, Conservative MP for Newark, on Thursday told the Commons that he believed MPs were cowed by threats of intimidation by "extremists". 

"We have allowed our streets to be dominated by Islamist extremists. And British Jews and others to be too intimidated to walk through central London, week after week," he said.

"And now we are allowing Islamist extremists to intimidate British members of Parliament."

He called for a debate on extremism and how we tackle the challenge which he claimed was one of the issues facing "our generation". 

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