Commons Speaker says he allowed Labour Gaza motion out of fears for ‘safety of MPs and their families’

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Commons Speaker says he allowed Labour Gaza motion out of fears for ‘safety of MPs and their families’

Lindsay Hoyle apologises to MPs over Commons Gaza vote chaos saying 'I thought I was doing the right thing and the best thing'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle
Speaker Lindsay Hoyle

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has said he controversially allowed Labour to bring their Gaza ceasefire motion to a vote because of genuine fears over the safety of MPs and their families.

The surprise move took place as thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Parliament Square.

Throughout the day, a long queue had formed outside the Commons, with protesters hoping to lobby MPs in person to support a ceasefire.

Jewish News understands Labour leader Keir Starmer was deeply concerned about threats made to MPs within his party after they continued to back the party position on Gaza.

He is believed to have raised these concerns though the Speaker ahead of the debate.

On Tuesday, in a debate on rising antisemitism in the UK, Sir Michal Ellis, the Conservative former attorney general, had also spoken of the horrendous threats levelled particularly at Labour MPs as a result of the Gaza conflict.

In chaotic scenes Hoyle offered an unprecedented apology after a fractious parliamentary debate on Gaza spiralled out of control when Conservative and Scottish National Party MPs reacted with fury to the Speaker’s decision.

Wednesday’s Opposition Day debate SNP accused of treating ‘atrocious situation’ in Gaza like a ‘party political football’ game saw Hoyle upend parliamentary precedent and allow Labour to bring its motion to a vote, alongside the SNP’s own motion, and another tabled by the government.

Hoyle issued an apology to MPs at the end of a six-hour debate, in which MPs from Labour and the Tories accused the SNP of treating the crisis in Gaza like a “political football” game.

The SNP party amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, but accused Israel of the “collective punishment” of Palestinians.

Labour offered a similar alternative, but one which stressed there could be no ceasefire if Hamas did not down their arms.

The government also took the unusual decision of tabling their own motion, which seemed to be similar to that of Labour’s apart for the user of different language.

Hoyle sparked anger when he said he had reviewed ancient parliamentary procedure, and said he believed it was right all three motions were heard.

In extraordinary scenes, SNP MPs and some Tories walked out of the chamber over the Speaker’s handling of the vote.

There were claims Hoyle’s decision to allow the Labour motion prevented a rebellion against Starmer from left-wing MPs.

But Jewish News understands that most the party’s MPs were happy with the party’s motion, although “a handfull” wished to vote for both Labour and SNP motions.

It also emerged that several Tory MPs wanted to back the SNP motion.

One source told Jewish News that foreign secretary David Cameron has been among those to urge the government to back the Labour motion, as it closely resembled their stance on the Middle East.

Following calls for Hoyle to return to explain his decision, Hoyle told the Commons he chose to allow a vote on the Labour motion so MPs could express their view on “the widest range of propositions”.

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

He added he had acted out of fears for “the safety of MPs and their families.”

Sky News political editor Beth Rigby also wrote on X:”Am told that many MPs made a personal pleas to Sir Lindsay about amendments. MPs’ have growing concerns for personal safety after incidents of confrontations & protests over the Israel-Hamas.”

As Tory and SNP MPs staged a walkout MPs voted unanimously for a Labour motion calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn was joined by around 30 Tory MPs calling for Hoyle to resign over the matter.

He said his party had been treated “with complete and utter contempt”.

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt said Hoyle had “undermined the confidence” of the House and suggested his decision had allowed the debate to be “hijacked” by Labour.

She said this had “has raised temperatures in this House on an issue where feelings are already running high”.

Labour strongly denied claims made allegedly by a party source that Hoyle was pressurised to make the decision as “absolutely untrue”.

Starmer later accused the Conservatives and SNP of “choosing political games over serious solutions”.

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