UK

SNP’s Stephen Flynn calls for investigation following chaotic Gaza vote

The SNP Westminster leader said he was disappointed the ‘pantomime’ in the Commons had distracted from the situation in the Middle East.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

Stephen Flynn has called for an investigation into the chaos in the Commons on Wednesday following a debate on Gaza led by his party.

The SNP Westminster leader suggested Labour had sought to influence Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle into taking the unprecedented step of granting multiple votes during a debate on a Gaza ceasefire led by his Commons.

It followed uproar in the Commons, after the Speaker defied expectations by deciding MPs would first vote on Labour’s calls for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” ahead of a Government amendment seeking an “immediate humanitarian pause” to the Israel-Hamas conflict which could pave the way for a more permanent stop in fighting.

Because Wednesday was an official Opposition Day, when a party not in government has the opportunity to set the agenda in the House, the SNP was able to chose what to debate, with the Speaker then selecting both the Labour and Conservative amendments an unusual move.

Sir Lindsay claimed the possibility of a vote on proposals from the Opposition, the SNP, and the Government would give MPs the widest range of options in the debate.

The Commons Speaker was warned by his clerks that the move was unprecedented, and appeared in the chamber towards the end of Wednesday evening to apologise to MPs about how events had unfolded.

Mr Flynn told the PA news agency: “Every single member of Parliament knows that (Sir) Lindsay Hoyle was meeting with Sir Keir Starmer and Alan Campbell, the Labour chief whip, before a decision was taken today.

“Indeed it was suggested to me that was a reason the Speaker was jumping in and out of the Speaker’s chair in advance of proceedings, which will obviously all be on camera for everyone to reflect upon.

“I think we probably need a wee bit of an investigation into what has happened here, and all those individuals who have been involved, but again, I am sure during the private conversation that I have with the Speaker he will be able to hopefully alleviate some of my concerns in relation to that.”

Mr Flynn claimed he had written to Labour leader Sir Keir at the weekend inviting the party to discuss his Opposition Day motion ahead of the debate, but added: “He has not even replied because he was obviously busy trying to put pressure on the Speaker to negate any discussion about the SNP’s motion.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle making a statement in the House of Commons in London after SNP and Conservative MPs walked out of the chamber
Commons Gaza ceasefire motion Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle making a statement in the House of Commons in London after SNP and Conservative MPs walked out of the chamber (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

“It has been posited to me that the SNP have been playing games on this, when in actual fact we are the ones who have been consistent in our view for months, and anyone watching the House of Commons today will know exactly who has been playing the games, and it is the incoming Labour Government.”

In the Commons, Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton had earlier denied reports that Sir Lindsay Hoyle had been subject to influence from the Labour Party, describing them as “wrong” and “incorrect”.

Mr Flynn described his mood after the debate as “scunnered”, a Scottish slang term meaning disappointed or annoyed.

“I am sure everyone at home watching is a bit scunnered too because the reality is that we were here to discuss something much bigger than ourselves, much bigger than this Parliament,” he added.

The SNP MP went on: “It was the safety of civilian life in Gaza, the desire and the need for that immediate ceasefire, something which we have been pushing for for months and instead we have turned into a complete pantomime, a pantomime driven by the fact that the Labour Party could not bring themselves to vote for an SNP motion, so forced the Speaker of the House of Commons to deviate from the procedures of this House.”

Following the Speaker’s apology in the Commons, Mr Flynn had said he would take “significant convincing” that the Speaker’s position was “not now intolerable”.

Outside he added: “I am going to rightly give him the opportunity to do that because he is someone who I have enormous respect for.

“I have until today a very good personal relationship with him and I am sure that that will continue, but he let us all down tonight, and as such instead of talking about the situation in Gaza we are instead talking about him and what has happened with him and the Labour Party today and that is not good enough.”