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by Louise Wilson
26 February 2024
Speaker rejects SNP bid to bring forward debate on Gaza

Stephen Flynn and Speaker Lindsay Hoyle | Alamy

Speaker rejects SNP bid to bring forward debate on Gaza

The SNP’s bid to bring forward an emergency debate on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza has been blocked by the Speaker.

Lindsay Hoyle said he had taken that decision as the government is set to make a statement on the conflict tomorrow, providing an “imminent opportunity” for MPs to discuss it.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn accused the Speaker of having “broken his word” and this would “further erode trust”.

He also said Westminster was “failing the people of Gaza”.

The party brought forward a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire last week, but was unable to vote on it after the Speaker selected the Labour amendment.

This was perceived as Hoyle showing favouritism to Labour, his former party, as Keir Starmer may have faced rebellion from his MPs who were minded to back the SNP motion.

The decision led to chaotic scenes in the Commons and Hoyle ultimately apologised, agreeing to speak to all party leaders and whips.

The SNP was advised to apply for an emergency debate under a mechanism known as standing order 24.

That application has now been denied by the Hoyle. Explaining the decision in the Commons, the Speaker said: “I understand the government is ready to make a relevant statement tomorrow, so there is a very imminent opportunity for this matter to come before ethe house. That is why I’ve decided the application for an emergency debate should not proceed.

“That decision, of course, does not mean that members cannot apply for a debate at a later stage when circumstances might have changes.”

The motion submitted by the SNP included backing for an immediate ceasefire, condemnation of plans to launch an offensive on Rafah, and a call on the UK Government to back a ceasefire at the next UN Security Council meeting.

Flynn said: “It’s regrettable that this inexplicable decision will further erode trust in the Speaker. The Speaker broke the rules last week – and this week he has broken his word. How can MPs have any trust in the Speaker when he makes a public commitment one minute, only to rip it up the next?”

The Speaker continues to face calls to resign over his role on last week’s debacle. A total of 80 MPs have now signed a motion of no confidence, including Flynn and several other SNP MPs.

Neither the UK Government or Labour are currently calling for Hoyle to go.

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