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by Louise Wilson
22 February 2024
Humza Yousaf: Lindsay Hoyle position ‘looks untenable’

House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is under fire for his handling of a Gaza debate | Alamy/PA

Humza Yousaf: Lindsay Hoyle position ‘looks untenable’

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said the Speaker of the House of Commons has “serious questions” to answer to prove his position is still tenable.

Yousaf said Lindsay Hoyle’s actions in relation to an SNP debate on Gaza were “disgraceful” and “chaotic”.

He said: “His position looks to me to be untenable and what we saw were frankly disgraceful, chaotic scenes in the House of Commons.

“The true tragedy about that is it takes away from what is the most important – and that is the fact that we have an absolute humanitarian catastrophe that has unfolded and deepened in Gaza. What we should be focused on is every single country in the international community coming together to exert pressure on both parties involved, to demand an immediate ceasefire.”

A motion expressing no confidence in Lindsay Hoyle as Speaker has been gathering momentum, backed by both SNP and Conservative MPs, after the row.

Hoyle broke precedent by allowing the Labour motion to be debated. Typically, in an opposition debate where the government put forwards on amendment, only that amendment is considered.

It has been seen by some as Hoyle – who until becoming speaker was a Labour MP – showing favouritism towards his former party. 

MPs ultimately agreed to Labour’s amendment backing an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” but largely because Conservative MPs were instructed to abstain. 

Asked if the SNP were also partly guilty of trying to score political points against Labour, Yousaf said he “resents” the question.

He added: “Our position has been absolutely consistent all the way through. I don't think it's unreasonable for an opposition party on opposition day to want to have their motion debated, discussed, and voted on.

“It looks like [the Speaker] has bent the rules and he has serious questions to answer – and that’s why Stephen Flynn is absolutely right in saying his position doesn't seem tenable.”

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross – who is also an MP – said yesterday’s events “did not reflect well on any of the parties involved”.

The Speaker offered an apology to the House last night and offered to meet with party leaders and chief whips to discuss the matter. Ross said he would wait to “reflect” on those discussions before deciding whether Hoyle could continue in the role.

He added: “I don't think anyone should understate the seriousness of situation, and the trust that has been eroded from someone who I like and respect and have worked well with as Speaker of the House of Commons.

“He can only remain in that position if [he has] the confidence of the whole house. I believe, as many others do, there is an awful lot of work to do to rebuild that confidence.”

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