Keir Starmer ‘categorically denies’ threatening Commons Speaker before Gaza debate

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Keir Starmer ‘categorically denies’ threatening Commons Speaker before Gaza debate

Labour leader reveals he spoke to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, US secretary of state Blinken and the PM of Qatar ahead of crafting his party's own Gaza amendment

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Keir Starmer (pic Ian Vogler)
Keir Starmer (pic Ian Vogler)

Keir Starmer has denied threatening Speaker Lindsay Hoyle “in any way whatsoever” over his controversial decision to allow a Labour Gaza ceasefire amendment to heard in a Commons Opposition Day debate.

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday, the Labour leader also revealed he had drafted his party’s amendment after returning from the Munich Security Conference, where he had spoken with the President of Israel and Prime Ministerof Qatar, and also to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

He also accused the SNP and the government of “walking off the pitch” before the Scottish party had failed to “divide Labour” and because the Tories had “lost control over their own MPs” over a vote on their own ceasefire motion.

Starmer said the Labour motion represented a “long term plan on how we get to a peaceful outcome” over the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

But he added ahead of Wednesday’s unruly scenes in the Commons:”Of course there were discussions with the Speaker, all party leaders speaker. There was absolutely no threat to the Speaker. What he wanted to do was ensure parliament had the broadest possible debate on the issue, which is very, very important.

“This is probably the most important issue globally at the moment, the conflict in Gaza and how we bring an end to the terrible situation.”

Pressed by presenter Tamara Cohen to “categorically deny you didn’t threaten to withdraw your support for him after the election”, Starmer then said:”I can categorically tell you that I did not threaten the Speaker in any way whatsoever.”

The Labour leader said Hoyle “did the right thing” and accused the SNP of “walking off the pitch because they wanted to divide the Labour Party and they couldn’t.”

He also said the government also “walked off the pitch” because “it thought it was going to lose a vote” and had “lost control of its own MPs.”

Speaking about the “proposition I put on the table” Starmer said it had been crafted after he returned from Munich where he had “spoken to Secretary of State Blinken, the Prime Minister of Qatar, having spoken to the President of Israel.”

He added:”I have spoken to people actually involved in trying to (stop) this awful conflict. I wanted that proposition heard and voted on.”

The Speaker apologised to MPs again in the Commons on Thursday saying:”I will reiterate I made a judgment call that didn’t end up in the position where I expected it to.

“I regret it. I apologise to the SNP … I apologise and I apologise to the house. I made a mistake. We do make mistakes. I own up to mine.”

He added:”I will defend every member in this House. Every member matters to me in this house.

“And it has been said, both sides, I never ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find a friend, of whatever side, has been murdered by terrorists.”

Hoyle granted the SNP an emergency debate on Gaza.

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