Embattled Speaker faces more pressure to go after rejecting second Gaza debate

Sir Lindsay Hoyle turns SNP down again over ceasefire vote as ‘Islamophobia’ row deepens

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is facing renewed pressure to step down as House of Commons Speaker after he was accused of having “broken his word” over promises of another debate on Gaza.

The Speaker rejected a bid by the SNP yesterday for an emergency debate on a ceasefire and an end to UK arms sales to Israel, despite offering such a debate last week while apologising for his handling of last Wednesday’s ceasefire motion.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The decision brought a flurry of new signatures to a motion expressing no confidence in the Speaker, with 80 MPs now backing the call for Sir Lindsay to step down.

SNP MSP John Mason looks on at First Minister Humza Yousaf as the campaign at the Lord Roberts Monument in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA WireSNP MSP John Mason looks on at First Minister Humza Yousaf as the campaign at the Lord Roberts Monument in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
SNP MSP John Mason looks on at First Minister Humza Yousaf as the campaign at the Lord Roberts Monument in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

SNP leader Stephen Flynn said Sir Lindsay’s decision “called into question” the trust placed in him as Speaker.

He said: “Last week the Speaker of the House of Commons broke the rules, this week he has broken his word.”

He added: “I would imagine that parliamentarians across the chamber will be deeply concerned about the fact that the Speaker of the House of Commons has made a clear and unambiguous statement, stating that he would have a debate and a vote in relation to the situation in Gaza, and that he has instead opted not to do that.”

Mr Flynn had asked in a point of order why his request for an emergency debate yesterday had been denied, despite the Speaker’s earlier promise that one could be held.

Sir Lindsay said the subject of a ceasefire in Gaza would be brought before the Commons today, when it is understood that development minister Andrew Mitchell will make a statement to the House.

He said: “In determining whether a matter is urgent I must have regard to the probability of the matter being brought before the House in time by other means. The House came to a resolution on this matter on Wednesday last week.

“Further, I understand the Government is ready to make a relevant statement tomorrow so there is a very imminent opportunity for this important matter to come before the House.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Flynn said: “The public aren’t zipped up the back. They understand that a statement means you get questions and answers, not a debate and a vote.”

Sir Lindsay’s decision last Wednesday to allow a debate on a Labour amendment to the SNP’s motion calling for a ceasefire provoked angry scenes in the Commons and calls for the Speaker to resign.

The next day, Sir Lindsay apologised, saying: “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.

“I would say that we can have an SO24 (Standing Order 24) to get an immediate debate because the debate is so important to this House.”

Momentum behind the motion of no confidence in Sir Lindsay, put down by Conservative William Wragg, appeared to slow after his apology, with only four MPs adding their names on Friday, but a further nine signed it after Mr Flynn’s point of order yesterday.

Some 36 SNP MPs have now signed the motion, along with 42 Conservatives and two independents.

The new signatures mean around 12 per cent of the House of Commons has now called for Sir Lindsay to resign.

Sir Lindsay cited concerns about MPs safety for his decision to allow the Labour amendment in last week’s vote, a move that saved Labour a potential rebellion of many MPs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Former deputy Conservative Party chairman Lee Anderson then lost the Tory whip at the weekend after failing to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had “got control” of London and city’s mayor Sadiq Khan.

First Minister Humza Yousaf yesterday called on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to “lead from the front” and tackle Islamophobia within the Conservative Party in the wake of Mr Anderson’s “despicable” comments.

Mr Yousaf insisted the “Conservative Party is riddled with Islamophobia” as he demanded Mr Sunak instigate an independent, external review of the issue.

Revealing he had spoken to SNP MSP John Mason after being “deeply concerned” about comments his backbencher had made that were perceived to be anti-Semitic, the First Minister condemned Mr Sunak for failing to tackle Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.

The SNP leader branded Mr Anderson’s comments as being “really explicit Islamophobia” as he said the MP should be expelled from the party.

Mr Anderson’s comments are “a further demonstration of the fact that Islamophobia is normalised”, Mr Yousaf said.

He said: “You can look at any one of the tweets that I put out, or any one of the social media posts I put out, and you will see streams of Islamophobic abuse. The fact that an MP thinks it is acceptable to make such Islamophobic comments against anybody, let alone the Mayor of London, I think is despicable.

“I think the Conservative Party should be investigating what, I think, is clearly structural Islamophobia within that party.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Yousaf said he was “in full solidarity” with fellow Muslim Mr Khan as he called on the Tories to take tough action against Mr Anderson.

“He shouldn’t be allowed to continue to stand for the Conservatives, he shouldn’t just be suspended, he should be expelled from the party,” he said.

Mr Sunak has denied there is a problem with Islamophobia in his party, with the Prime Minister insisting that “racism or prejudice of any kind” is “completely unacceptable” and “not British”.

Mr Sunak stated: “Lee’s comments weren’t acceptable, they were wrong. And that’s why he had the whip suspended.” The Prime Minister continued: “Clearly his choice of words wasn’t acceptable, it was wrong.”

Referencing a newspaper piece by former home secretary Suella Braverman, in which she said that Islamists “are in charge of Britain now”, Mr Yousaf said those “disgraceful” comments “to me highlights that the Conservatives have got a real problem with Islamophobia”.

Mr Yousaf said: “The Prime Minister’s response to not just Lee Anderson’s comments, but Suella Braverman’s despicable comments has been that he hasn’t shown leadership on this issue. I would urge him to allow an external review into Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

“The Prime Minister has to lead from the front, he’s the Prime Minister, it is his party that is under scrutiny for unacceptable Islamophobia, he should be instructing an externally-led review into Islamophobia within the Conservative Party.”

Mr Yousaf spoke out as he campaigned in Glasgow ahead of a coming council by-election. He was joined by Mr Mason, who came under fire after he used a debate on the situation in Gaza to question if it was “not anti-Semitic for some to say that the present Israeli offensive has been over the top and has possibly crossed the line from defence to revenge”.