UK

Flynn: Speaker ‘effectively lied’ to MPs and public over Gaza debate

Sir Lindsay Hoyle offered a second debate on Gaza to the SNP last week but rejected the party’s request on Monday.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn was speaking on Tuesday
Stephen Flynn SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn was speaking on Tuesday (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle “effectively lied” to MPs and the public over the holding of a debate on Gaza this week, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has said.

Parliament descended into chaos last week when Sir Lindsay decided to allow a Labour amendment to an SNP motion on Gaza to go to a vote.

Mr Flynn claimed on Tuesday the decision was made after Sir Lindsay was “obviously bullied” by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – accusations both men deny.

While apologising to MPs for the situation – which Sir Lindsay said was prompted over concerns for members’ safety – the Speaker last week offered another debate to the SNP, which had not been able to vote on its own motion in the first instance.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle apologised after the Commons was plunged into chaos last week
Lindsay Hoyle Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle apologised after the Commons was plunged into chaos last week (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

But on Monday, the request for a debate was turned down, with the Speaker saying a statement from the Government on Tuesday would be sufficient.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland, Mr Flynn said: “Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House of Commons (has) broken the rules and now broke his word and effectively lied, not just to SNP MPs but the entire parliamentary chamber and indeed the public last Thursday.

“I don’t think anyone can be in any position where they don’t find that deeply, deeply challenging given the Speaker of the House of Commons is there to effectively ensure that democracy runs smoothly on these isles.”

Asked about his relationship with Sir Lindsay, Mr Flynn said: “I’ve been very clear, and in fact there was a few folk who suggested I might have jumped the gun last week when I said that Lindsay Hoyle’s position was no longer tenable and I feel almost vindicated in that regard.

“He told the SNP one thing on Thursday and he turned his back on that just yesterday, flying in the face of precedent by the way.”

Mr Flynn said the Speaker was “obviously bullied” by Sir Keir.

Opposition politicians have accused Sir Keir of pressuring the Speaker to allow his party’s amendment to come to a vote in an effort to stave off a revolt from his own MPs on the issue.

Mr Flynn said: “He (the Speaker) was obviously bullied into a position last week by the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, following a private conversation in the back rooms of Westminster.”

After it was pointed out that both Sir Keir and the Speaker deny the allegations, Mr Flynn – who has no hair – said: “That’s like me denying that I’m a bald man – it would just defy reality and logic.

“Everyone on Westminster estate knows what happened last week – the reality is the Speaker was unduly influenced by the leader of the Labour Party and, as a result, he subsequently lied to the SNP because he created a complete mess, a circus, in Westminster.”

Labour and the Speaker’s office have been contacted for comment.

Pressure on Sir Lindsay at Westminster continued to mount with one in eight MPs now signed up to a motion of no confidence in him.

The motion, tabled by Tory MP William Wragg, has 81 signatures, mainly from the Conservatives and SNP.