House of Commons Speaker fights for his job after chaotic Gaza debate

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, is preparing to hold meetings with party leaders as he faces calls for his resignation over chaotic scenes in the chamber on Wednesday night during a debate on Gaza. 

Hoyle offered the talks in an emotional mea culpa as he admitted he had been responsible for the breakdown of the Gaza debate. The Speaker broke parliamentary convention to allow a Labour amendment to an early day motion from the Scottish National party calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. 

More than 30 members of the Conservative and Scottish National parties have signed an early day motion calling for Hoyle — a former Labour MP — to resign as Speaker, a strictly neutral position chairing debates in the Commons.

Hoyle is expected to face more criticism on Thursday during the weekly “business questions” in which Penny Mordaunt, leader of the House of Commons, takes questions from MPs.

Labour MPs were urged to attend the session, which begins at 10.30am, to provide moral support for Hoyle. 

Hoyle’s decision on Wednesday to accept the Labour amendment on Gaza was in defiance of the advice of his Commons clerk, who warned it was a “departure from the long-established convention”. It led to many SNP and Tory MPs walking out of the chamber. 

Mordaunt accused Hoyle of making a procedural decision that “undermines the confidence of this House” before withdrawing Tory MPs from the voting process. The Labour amendment was nodded through the Commons without a vote.

Although Conservative ministers have not explicitly called for the Speaker to resign, health minister Maria Caulfield refused to give her backing to him on Thursday morning.

She told Sky News that Hoyle’s position had become “difficult” after the chamber descended into a “circus” on Wednesday night. “It was not the House of Commons showing its best side . . . it has dented my confidence in Lindsay,” she said. 

Stephen Flynn, the Westminster leader of the SNP, has also questioned Hoyle’s future, saying it would “take significant convincing that your position is not now intolerable”.

The Speaker said in his apology on Wednesday that he had allowed the Labour amendment to the SNP motion — as well as a government amendment — because he was concerned about security threats to MPs. Many Labour MPs who have not called for a ceasefire in Gaza have been the subject of threats and intimidation by angry protesters. 

But Mordaunt said last night that her party had never asked for any such advantage: “We on this side of the House have never asked that the procedures of this House be upturned in order to mitigate against such pressures, even when we have faced extreme abuse.”

The motion against Hoyle has been put forward by William Wragg, chair of the public administration and constitutional affairs committee, and has so far gathered 33 signatures.

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