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Parliament in chaos as SNP and Tory MPs WALK OUT of Commons chamber in a furious row over Gaza ceasefire vote with Speaker Lindsay Hoyle under fire


The House of Commons descended into chaos tonight as SNP and Tory MPs walked out of the chamber in a furious row over a vote on a Gaza ceasefire.

In a protest prompted by the actions of Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, huge numbers of MPs deserted the Commons following angry exchanges.

The row was sparked by Sir Lindsay – who was absent from the chamber this evening – having earlier sidestepped convention in a debate over the bloody ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza.

The Speaker caused fury by selecting both a Labour amendment and a Government amendment to an SNP motion calling for an unqualified ‘immediate ceasefire’ in the Middle East.

The Government later abandoned its involvement in the Opposition Day debate, which left the SNP with the prospect of not getting a vote on their motion.

After a slew of points of order from Tory MPs and a furious SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn this evening, both the SNP and Government benches staged their walkout.

MPs later voted on whether the Commons should sit in private in a bid to return Sir Lindsay to the chamber.

This evening’s mayhem – in scenes not seen since the Brexit battles at Wesminster – has raised thoughts among MPs of efforts to oust Sir Lindsay as Speaker.

The House of Commons descended into chaos tonight as SNP and Tory MPs walked out of the chamber in a furious row over a vote on a Gaza ceasefire

The House of Commons descended into chaos tonight as SNP and Tory MPs walked out of the chamber in a furious row over a vote on a Gaza ceasefire

Sir Keir wanted to prevent his MPs from backing an SNP motion demanding an unqualified ‘immediate ceasefire’ by tabling his own amendment, caveating that Hamas terrorists must hand back hostages and lay down weapons first.

A previous vote on the issue tabled by the nationalists last November resulted in eight Labour frontbenchers resigning in order to support it. 

However, Sir Keir’s tactic was thrown into doubt as the government put down its own change to the motion, to add to the political chicanery. 

Convention had suggested that Speaker Lindsay Hoyle would only choose the government version put to a vote this afternoon.

That would have raised the prospect of Sir Keir seeing his MPs join the SNP in the division lobbies even if he orders them to abstain, as many have been vocal in urging an immediate ceasefire.

However, Sir Lindsay sparked uproar in the chamber this afternoon as he confirmed he was selecting both the Labour amendment and the government one – over the advice of his own clerks.

The SNP cried foul saying that it deprived them of a ‘clean’ vote on their own Opposition Day motion.

And one senior Conservative was heard shouting, ‘Bring back Bercow!’ – a reference to Tory complaints that the former Speaker bent procedures to help opponents of Brexit.

There were also bitter accusations that both Labour and the other parties had threatened to unseat the Speaker as they tried to get their own way. 

Sir Keir Starmer’s party had appeared to quell a potential backbench rebellion by laying down an amendment calling for an ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ ahead of a vote on a similar SNP motion

Convention had suggested that Speaker Lindsay Hoyle would only choose the government version put to a vote this afternoon

Convention had suggested that Speaker Lindsay Hoyle would only choose the government version put to a vote this afternoon

But the Government last night tabled their own amendment, which only goes as far as to call for an 'immediate humanitarian pause' followed by a 'permanent sustainable ceasefire'. Pictured: Gaza City

But the Government last night tabled their own amendment, which only goes as far as to call for an ‘immediate humanitarian pause’ followed by a ‘permanent sustainable ceasefire’. Pictured: Gaza City

But Sir Lindsay said there was a precedent, adding that he thought the operation of standing orders in the House was outdated. 

‘This is a highly sensitive subject on which feelings are running high, in the House, in the nation, and throughout the world. I think it is important on this occasion that the House is able to consider the widest possible range of options,’ Sir Lindsay said.

To outcry from MPs he added: ‘I have therefore decided to select the amendments both in the name of the Prime Minister and in the name of the Leader of the Opposition.’

To add more heat to the situation, a significant pro-Palestinian protest is expected to take place in Westminster this afternoon.  

Clerk of the House of Commons Tom Goldsmith warned Sir Lindsay in a letter that ‘long-established conventions are not being followed in this case’.

There were rumours of a meeting between Sir Lindsay and Sir Keir before the session started this afternoon. 

In a round of interviews this morning, shadow cabinet member Lisa Nandy said Labour was making representations to Sir Lindsay about what amendments would be selected. As it is an Opposition Day debate, the government will simply be able to ignore the result.

Ms Nandy stressed that there are ‘significant differences’ between Labour’s wording and the SNP’s. 

‘We are clear that any ceasefire by definition must be two-sided, that Israel can’t be expected to lay down its weapons if Hamas doesn’t observe the terms of that ceasefire,’ she said. 

There is no limit to how many amendments can be selected by the Speaker, but typically he would only choose one to put to a vote on an Opposition Day motion.

The Government’s text only calls for an ‘immediate humanitarian pause’ followed by a ‘permanent sustainable ceasefire’. 

In November, 56 Labour MPs defied Sir Keir to vote for the SNP’s previous call for a ceasefire, with 10 frontbenchers quitting.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said he hoped the House of Commons could ‘come together’ on the issue, telling MPs: ‘A ground offensive in Rafah would be a humanitarian disaster, a moral catastrophe and a strategic mistake – it must not happen.’

Clerk of the House of Commons Tom Goldsmith warned Sir Lindsay in a letter that 'long-established conventions are not being followed in this case'.

Clerk of the House of Commons Tom Goldsmith warned Sir Lindsay in a letter that ‘long-established conventions are not being followed in this case’.

He added: ‘We must not just avert a ground invasion of Rafah, essential though it is, all violence against civilians must now stop.

‘And that is why Labour is saying unequivocally that we need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to end the bloodshed and the suffering.’

The SNP has boasted that it ‘inserted a backbone’ in Labour with its device of an Opposition Day motion.

The party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: ‘I welcome this long-overdue U-turn from Sir Keir Starmer who now appears to support the SNP’s call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

‘However, the plain truth is Sir Keir was forced into this position through public pressure and, in particular, by the SNP.

‘It’s telling that it took the SNP to insert a backbone into the Labour Party and act as Westminster’s conscience on this conflict.

‘Questions will naturally arise as to why it’s taken Sir Keir so long to change his mind, what his long months of prevarication achieved, and whether he will reinstate the MPs he sacked in November for supporting the same position he finally holds too.

‘Since Westminster rejected a ceasefire in November, more than 29,000 Palestinian children, women and men have been killed. It’s vital MPs don’t make the same mistake again.’

There was also a mixed response from Labour MPs to the attempt to overwrite the SNP motion.

‘Some MPs are still annoyed about the wording of the amendment, even though it calls for an immediate ceasefire,’ one source said. ‘But they’ll vote for all of it – it’s the best we’re going to get.’

Mish Rahman, who sits on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, said the motion was equivalent to ‘playing politics with people’s lives’.

He added: ‘The SNP motion is significantly stronger than Labour’s mealy-mouthed watered-down version which ignores Israel‘s collective punishment of Palestinians. Starmer is trying to have his cake and eat it too.’

Last night the SNP accused Labour of only doing the right thing after months of internal pressure. Pictured: A photo taken from southern Israel along the border with the Gaza strip

Last night the SNP accused Labour of only doing the right thing after months of internal pressure. Pictured: A photo taken from southern Israel along the border with the Gaza strip

While the wording of the amendment is slightly different from the SNP's original proposal ¿ it does not accuse Israel of 'the collective punishment of the Palestinian people' ¿ the move represents a significant shift in Labour's position. Pictured: David Lammy

While the wording of the amendment is slightly different from the SNP’s original proposal – it does not accuse Israel of ‘the collective punishment of the Palestinian people’ – the move represents a significant shift in Labour’s position. Pictured: David Lammy



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