Commons In Uproar As MPs Slam Speaker Ahead Of Crunch Gaza Debate

Lindsay Hoyle's decision sparked anger.
Lindsay Hoyle's decision sparked anger.

Lindsay Hoyle's decision sparked anger.

The House of Commons descended into uproar after Speaker Lindsay Hoyle made a controversial ruling at the start of a crunch debate on the war in Gaza.

In a highly unusual move, he told MPs he was choosing a Labour amendment to an SNP opposition day motion which calls for an “immediate ceasefire” in the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

As expected, he also accepted a government amendment seeking to water down the SNP motion.

Hoyle said: “I think it’s important on this occasion that the House is able to consider the widest possible range of options.”

But that sparked fury from both SNP and Tory MPs, who insisted there was no precedent for the Speaker’s ruling to accept an amendment from an opposition party to another opposition party’s motion.

Some shouted “shame” at the Speaker, while a former cabinet minister told HuffPost UK the ruling had taken the Commons “back to Bercow”, a reference to Hoyle’s predecessor who made a series of controversial rulings during the Brexit debates.

Critics accused Hoyle, who was first elected as a Labour MP in 1997, of making the ruling to prevent Keir Starmer suffering another major rebellion on Gaza by dozens of his own MPs.

SNP chief whip Owen Thompson accused Hoyle of “doing things in a way that has never been done before”.

“What is the point of an opposition day if it’s going to be done like this,” he said, prompting applause from SNP MPs.

Veteran SNP MP Pete Wishart posted on X: “Absolutely ridiculous ruling from the Speaker. He has totally lost it and this will come back to haunt him. He talks about ‘precedent’ but this has practically never happened.”

A Tory minister told HuffPost UK: “He’s really upset a lot of MPs. He didn’t make that ruling when we were voting on free school meals or water quality.”

One of the Speaker’s top advisers, clerk of the Commons Tom Goldsmith, also condemned his ruling.

In a letter published in the House of Commons library, he said it was “a departure from the long-established convention”.

He said there had only been two occasions in the past 25 years when opposition amendments to opposition motions had been accepted, and on both occasions - unlike today - there had been no government amendment.

Goldsmith added: “I know that you understand why I feel compelled to point out that long-established conventions are not being followed in this case.

“I am grateful to you for making every effort to discuss this with me extensively and for taking full account of my views when reaching your decision, which I know was not an easy one, and which of course is one for you to make.”