More than 50 MPs sign motion of no confidence in speaker as minister says he has 48 hours to save job – UK politics live | Politics

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More than 50 MPs, including more than half of all SNP MPs, have signed Commons motion of no confidence in speaker

More than 50 MPs have now signed the Commons early day motion expressing no confidence in the speaker. 30 of them are Conservatives, 22 of them are from the SNP and one is an ex-Tory now sitting as an independent.

In some respects, the SNP signatories are more of a worry for Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Fewer than 10% of Conservative MPs have signed, but more than half of the SNP’s parliamentary party has now lost confidence in him.

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Key events

Labour’s Lucy Powell urges government to do more to protect MPs from intimidation

In the Commons Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, has just read out the business for the next two weeks. She did not mention the speaker, or last night’s debate.

Lucy Powell, the shadow leader, is speaking now. She says Sir Lindsay Hoyle acted with good intentions, and wanted MPs to have a wide choice when it came to the votes.

She says, given the SNP supported Labour’s motion, it was right that it was put to a vote.

The government’s decision to boycott the vote was “extraordinary”, she says.

But she says that it is “with regret” that parliament did not show itself at its best.

The Commons should have more time to discuss these matters. It should not be up to the opposition to schedule debates on Gaza.

Powell turns to the security of MPs. Legitimate lobbying of MPs, including robust lobbying, is to be expected.

But increasingly a line is being crossed, she says. She condemns the protest outside Tobias Ellwood’s home. She asks if the government agree that the police should take a firmer line on these protests.

And does the government agree that it should look at the causes of this. People should be careful about the language they used, she says. And more should be done to stop social media companies spreading hate, she says.

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Tory MP Danny Kruger says Hoyle should go because he was willing to change democratic procedure in response to threat

One Tory argument against Sir Lindsay Hoyle is the claim that his decision yesterday was biased in favour of Labour. Another is that in deciding would and would not be put to a vote partly in response to people issuing threats to MPs he was setting a dangerous precedent. The Conservative MP Danny Kruger has made this case in posts on X this morning explaining he has signed the no confidence motion.

I’ve signed the motion of no confidence in Mr Speaker. This isn’t personal: he’s a decent man and I’m sure he thought he was doing the right thing yesterday. But Sir Lindsay allowed Labour to use the Islamist threat to change the way our democracy works. This is unacceptable. 1/

— Danny Kruger (@danny__kruger) February 22, 2024

I’ve signed the motion of no confidence in Mr Speaker. This isn’t personal: he’s a decent man and I’m sure he thought he was doing the right thing yesterday. But Sir Lindsay allowed Labour to use the Islamist threat to change the way our democracy works. This is unacceptable. 1/

Starmer is even more culpable. He should be standing for democracy and against mob rule. Instead he used the threat of violence for party political ends, to wriggle out of a crisis created by Labour’s unbridgeable division over Israel. 2/

Like the Speaker, I daresay Starmer wants to do the right thing. But like the Speaker he showed weakness and partisanship yesterday. This was a harbinger of what a Labour government would bring: extremists de facto in charge, and the subversion of democracy. 3/

(And for those shouting ‘prorogation’ remember: in 2019 we sought to restore Parly sovereignty and to ensure that proper procedure – that the Govt controls the order paper except on opposition days – was followed. We had a rogue Speaker then. We can’t have another one now.) 4/4

Daniel Finkelstein, the Times columnist and Conservative peer, gave a fuller version of this argument earlier today in his own post on X.

This idea, common overnight among commentators, that last night was just embarrassing games and pomposity is quite wrong. If violent threat prompted the change in motion selection it could hardly be more serious.

Yet if it didn’t, it means the Speaker isn’t telling the truth and it might mean he was pressured by the opposition. Both of which are extremely serious.

I can quite see why allowing Labour’s amendment (albeit an incoherent one) expanded choice but this isn’t the point at all. The point is the parliamentary procedure matters as does precedent and resistance to violent threat and the competence of the Speaker. These are not just sort of pomposity.

I can’t believe some Labour centrists and media commentators argue this after all the discussion during the Johnson years about the importance of institutions and process. It’s like they didn’t mean their earlier critique at all. Which (and I am not being arch here) would be very disappointing and worrying.

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Sir Lindsay Hoyle will not be taking any rash, early decisons about his future, Steven Swinford from the Times reports.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is not planning to resign today and will conduct ‘business as usual’ in the face of mounting pressure from ministers and backbenchers

The Speaker will meet senior leaders but has been advised by allies against doing anything rash.

All eyes on the no confidence…

— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) February 22, 2024

Sir Lindsay Hoyle is not planning to resign today and will conduct ‘business as usual’ in the face of mounting pressure from ministers and backbenchers

The Speaker will meet senior leaders but has been advised by allies against doing anything rash.

All eyes on the no confidence motion – more than 50 MPs have now put their name to it

Ministers and PPSs now publicly saying they have lost confidence in him

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Hoyle ‘head and shoulders’ better than last two speaker, says former Tory defence secretary Ben Wallace

An influential Conservative has spoken up for Sir Lindsay Hoyle this morning. At one point Ben Wallace, the former defence secretary, was a favourite for party leader. In posts on X this morning, he has described Hoyle as the best speaker he’s known since he was elected in 2005.

I have served under three speakers. Lindsay Hoyle is head and shoulders above the rest. He is fair, kind and a protector of back benchers. He is not a bully nor a grandstander nor pompous. He has my full support.

— Rt. Hon Ben Wallace MP (@BWallaceMP) February 22, 2024

I have served under three speakers. Lindsay Hoyle is head and shoulders above the rest. He is fair, kind and a protector of back benchers. He is not a bully nor a grandstander nor pompous. He has my full support.

The real question we should ask ourselves is why Keir Starmer, the lawyer, seems to think Commons rules should not be followed. Is it one rule for Starmer and one for the rest of us?

Labour always knew it was an SNP opposition day so why did Labour seek to override standing orders?

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There are now 57 signatures on the Commons early day motion expressing no confidence in Sir Lindsay Hoyle. That suggests it won’t be long before the tally reaches 65, which would represent 10% of the house.

On the plus side for Hoyle, he has the support of Labour, and the Labour leadership. Michael Martin was forced to resign as Commons speaker after both the government and oppostion leadership decided it was time for him to go.

What is not clear, yet, is whether or not No 10 is going to decide that it wants him out. It has not indicated that so far, but if enough Tory MPs were to declare that they had lost confidence in Hoyle, Rishi Sunak could be persuaded to allow the Commons to put this matter to a vote. It must be a relief for Sunak to have Conservative MPs for once gunning for someone else, not him.

If the number of signatures on the EDM were to reach 100, a formal confidence vote would become much more likely. Nicholas Watt from Newsnight says there are some Conservatives who have not signed it yet but who will if Hoyle does not indicate he is going.

Senior Tory MP tells me: A lot of us agree with Will Wragg’s EDM [Early Day Motion] but are reluctant to sign it. If the speaker doesn’t indicate by next week that he is going then lots of us will then sign it.”

Senior Tory MP tells me: A lot of us agree with Will Wragg’s EDM [Early Day Motion] but are reluctant to sign it. If the speaker doesn’t indicate by next week that he is going then lots of us will then sign it.”

— Nicholas Watt (@nicholaswatt) February 22, 2024

Hoyle was elected speaker just before the 2019 election. Aged 66, he is currently expected to stand at the election and serve for another term as speaker. The last four speakers all stayed in office for roughly a decade. But if Hoyle were at risk of losing a confidence vote, he could decide to stand down this year, to allow MPs to chose a new speaker before the election.

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Libby Brooks

Libby Brooks

Speaking on BBC Newsnight last night, the SNP’s culture spokesperson John Nicolson denied that the group had purposefully walked out of the chamber together with Tory MPs as the debate ended yesterday.

Nicolson said:

SNP MPs thought the whole procedure was absurd. What SNP MPs did was they went to the lobby, that’s the rooms beside the main parliamentary debating chamber, ready to vote, they were anticipating and expecting a vote.

A number of MPs cross-party said they wanted their constituents to know where they stood on this and the problem with staged shenanigans was that MPs weren’t allowed to express their views in the lobbies and vote.

Other MPs have told the Guardian that they went into the aye lobby to protest against the point that they weren’t getting the chance to vote on their original motion. This morning Westminster group sources say MPs feel frustrated and angry that the focus has now moved so far from Gaza and at the way Westminster conventions can be broken “when it suits”.

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In his interview on the Today programme this morning Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, rejected claims that Keir Starmer told Sir Lindsay Hoyle that Labour MPs would not support his re-election as speaker after the next election if he did not allow a vote on the Labour amendment. McFadden said he had checked this out and the claim was “categorically untrue”.

The question was prompted by posts on X from Nicholas Watt, Newsnight’s political editor. But Watt told Today that his posts did not say that these threats had come from Starmer himself. Watt said that he had been talking in private to many Labour MPs in the days running up to the vote and that he was reporting the message that he was hearing from some of them.

These are the posts Watt put on X yesterday.

Senior Labour figures tell me @CommonsSpeaker was left in no doubt that Labour would bring him down after the general election unless he called Labour’s Gaza amendment

The message was: you will need our votes to be re-elected as speaker after election with strong indications this would not be forthcoming if he failed to call the Labour amendment

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Hoyle ‘acted in good faith’, says Labour’s Pat McFadden

Pat McFadden, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, was on TV and radio duty for the opposition this morning. In his interviews, he defended Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker, saying that he “acted in good faith” and that he took a decision he did “to have the widest possible set of options before parliament”.

He also said it was unfair for the Tories to blame Hoyle for the fact that they did not get a vote on the government motion. He said:

It’s not his fault that Maria [Caulfield]’s party puts forward a proposition then before the vote says, ‘we’re not going to vote on it, even though we’re the government, even though we’ve got a majority’ and the Speaker is taking the rap for that. And he shouldn’t have to.

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There are two urgent questions in the Commons at 10.30am before Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the house, takes business questions. Both have been tabled by Labour MPs, and the first is on compensation to victims of the Post Office Horizon scandal, and the second is on the closure of the Inter Faith Network following the removal of government funding.

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Minister rejects claim Conservative party ducked vote on Gaza ceasefire last night because it feared it would lose

In an interview with LBC this morning Maria Caulfield, the health minister, rejected suggestions that the Conservative party ducked the vote last night because it was worried that it might lose.

This is what Natasha Clark from LBC posted on X last night.

Multiple Tory MPs say Penny Mordaunt pulled tonight’s amendment because govt did not have votes to support Israel ‘humanitarian pause’ motion.

Rumour is that too many Tories had told Whips they were minded to back the Labour motion in favour of full fat ceasefire…

— Natasha Clark (@NatashaC) February 21, 2024

Multiple Tory MPs say Penny Mordaunt pulled tonight’s amendment because govt did not have votes to support Israel ‘humanitarian pause’ motion.

Rumour is that too many Tories had told Whips they were minded to back the Labour motion in favour of full fat ceasefire…

When this was put to her this morning, Caulfield replied:

No, that’s definitely not true. We just felt, as you saw the scenes unfolding, that we just couldn’t take part in this. That it wasn’t fair on the SNP and I’m not the SNPs biggest supporter, but to be fair to them, they had a right to have a vote on their debate.

Until Penny Mordaunt, leader of the Commons, announced at the end of the debate that the Tories would not be participating, it had been expected that they would vote down the Labour amendment, vote down the SNP amendment, and then use their Commons majority to vote through their own amendment.

When asked if she was sure Tories could have won the vote, Caulfield replied:

Yes, I think we’ve been pretty clear on that. We had a similar vote a few weeks ago, and the party, we were pretty united on that. So that was not the reason that we pulled out of it.

Caulfield was referring to the vote in November on an SNP amendment to the king’s speech calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. At the time no Tory voted with the SNP.

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More than 50 MPs, including more than half of all SNP MPs, have signed Commons motion of no confidence in speaker

More than 50 MPs have now signed the Commons early day motion expressing no confidence in the speaker. 30 of them are Conservatives, 22 of them are from the SNP and one is an ex-Tory now sitting as an independent.

In some respects, the SNP signatories are more of a worry for Sir Lindsay Hoyle. Fewer than 10% of Conservative MPs have signed, but more than half of the SNP’s parliamentary party has now lost confidence in him.

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Labour MPs are supporting Lindsay Hoyle. Here are posts from two of them on X.

From Barry Sheerman

Lindsay Hoyle has been an exemplary Speaker the best I have known he is always fair & even-handed & has taken the most active role in the care & support of all Members he should be thanked & supported.

— Barry Sheerman MP (@BarrySheerman) February 21, 2024

Lindsay Hoyle has been an exemplary Speaker the best I have known he is always fair & even-handed & has taken the most active role in the care & support of all Members he should be thanked & supported.

From Jim McMahon

Honestly, they need to grow up.

Sir Hoyle is a good Speaker, a decent man and deserves better than this.

Parliament needs to reflect on the division and anger too often exploited for political gain. We should be coming together to lead the nation through these difficult issues. https://t.co/OE8Kg2YgMH

— Jim McMahon MP (@JimfromOldham) February 21, 2024

Honestly, they need to grow up.

Sir Hoyle is a good Speaker, a decent man and deserves better than this.

Parliament needs to reflect on the division and anger too often exploited for political gain. We should be coming together to lead the nation through these difficult issues.

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Lindsay Hoyle has 48 hours to persuade MPs he deserves to stay on as speaker, says minister

In another interview this morning Maria Caulfield, the health minister, said that Sir Lindsay Hoyle had 48 hours to persuade MPs he should remain as Commons speaker.

Asked if his position was now untenable, she told TalkTV:

I voted for Lindsay as speaker of the House of Commons, so I was a big Lindsay Hoyle fan but his actions yesterday I’m very disappointed in.

There is a notice calling for a confidence vote on the speaker. He did apologise last night which I am giving him credit for doing that. He will be meeting with the leader of the house. It will depend on what he says over the next 24, 48 hours.

She said Hoyle might now be regareded as biased.

There can be no question that a speaker of the House of Commons is influenced by their own political party, and we need to be absolutely clear on that. We can’t function if there’s bias in the chair of the House of Commons.

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Kiran Stacey has written a good backgrounder on how Keir Starmer managed to persuade Sir Lindsay Hoyle yesterday to ignore established procedural rules and to allow a vote on the Labour amendment. This is how it starts.

On Wednesday lunchtime Keir Starmer was facing the biggest crisis of his career.

Earlier in the week, he had been warned that as many as 100 of his MPs – including at least two of his shadow cabinet – were willing to rebel by voting for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza unless Labour brought forward its own amendment calling for one.

Having agreed to publish exactly such an amendment, the Labour leader now faced another hurdle: the Commons speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, was being advised not to pick it and instead call a different one from the government.

Hours away from the biggest rebellion of his leadership, Starmer decided to intervene personally and visited Hoyle in his office behind the House of Commons chamber.

Those briefed on the meeting said the Labour leader warned Hoyle that Labour MPs’ security was at risk. Many had been deluged by criticisms, threats and abuse since abstaining on a similar SNP motion in November. With hundreds of protesters congregating outside parliament, they worried worse might be to come.

And here is the full article.

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Minister says Lindsay Hoyle’s position as speaker now ‘difficult’ after last night’s Gaza vote debacle

Good morning. Greg Power, who was an adviser to the late Robin Cook when he was leader of the Commons and who has spent the last two decades giving advice on strengthening parliamentary governance in developing countries around the world, has just published an unusual and insightful book on behaviour and political reform (Inside the Political Mind) and it starts with this obseration that goes a long way to explain why parliament went into meltdown so dramatically last night.

The vast majority of parliamentary fights start with differences over policy. But what makes them combustible is when they turn into arguments about process. It is the belief that the rules are being abused, distorted or ignored in order to gain political advantage that creates such anger.

With that in mind, the events of last night, described here in Kiran Stacey’s overnight story, are easier to comprehend.

Today it is Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker, who is under most pressure. He is due to hold talks with the parties to clear the air, but 33 MPs (22 Tories, 11 SNP) have signed a Commons early day motion expressing on confidence in him. The Telegraph has splashed on the line that he is fighting to save his job.

Both Hoyle’s predecessors had EDMs tabled expressing no confidence in them, and precedent suggests that EDMs on their own don’t matter. Speakers end up going when the government or opposition leadership turns against them, and this can happen if it becomes clear that they enjoy the broad support of the house as a whole.

And that is why Maria Caulfield’s interviews this morning were interesting. Caulfield is a health minister. She was not explicitly delivering a government line on Hoyle (No 10, when asked questions about the speaker’s future, normally says that’s a matter for the Commons, not the government), but she did not give him her support.

As Aubrey Allegretti from the Times reported, on a Tory WhatsApp group last night Caulfield said Hoyle had been “completely irresponsible” in doing hat he did.

Tory WhatsApp groups are still alive with rage at the Speaker’s decision tonight.

Another minister – Maria Caulfield – breaks cover to claim Lindsay Hoyle knew “all the fire from protesters would be against us” by letting Labour motion be voted on – as Tories would oppose.

She says it was “completely irresponsible” for MPs’ safety.

Tory WhatsApp groups are still alive with rage at the Speaker’s decision tonight.

Another minister – Maria Caulfield – breaks cover to claim Lindsay Hoyle knew “all the fire from protesters would be against us” by letting Labour motion be voted on – as Tories would oppose.…

— Aubrey Allegretti (@breeallegretti) February 21, 2024

This morning Caulfield told Sky News that Hoyle’s position was now “difficult” and that she would struggle to support him.

And she said his ruling was biased against the Conservatives. On the Today programme she said that Hoyle had arranged the votes to take place in such a way as to reduce the risk of Labour MPs having to make a choice that would expose them to threats, but to increase the risk of Conservative MPs having to make a choice that would expose them to threats. She explained:

My concern was that, because [Hoyle] came under undue pressure from the Labour leader, because Labour were worried about losing that vote, for whatever reason … that meant that we will be the only party who would not be supporting the SNP motion, and that all the fire would come on Conservative MPs.

I just felt that you know, he was putting party politics above the impartiality of the speaker. He took the threat to Labour MPs seriously, but took no consideration of what would happen to Conservative MPs.

Caulfield was referring to the fact that, if the votes had taken place yesterday in line with the established rules, Labour MPs would not have been able to vote on their own motion, but would have had to take a view on the SNP one. The last time this happened, many received threats for not voting with for the SNP ceasefire proposal.

As a result of the Hoyle ruling, the Tories would have had to vote down two immediate ceasefire motions – Labour’s and the SNP’s – if they wanted to vote for their own immediate humanitarian pause one. (Under the conventional rules, they would have only had to vote down the SNP one to get a vote on their own.)

We’ve got business questions coming up in the Commons later, and that should give some indication as to how much opposition there is to Hoyle. Judging by social media, Labour MPs are already running an operation to back him.

Here is the agenda for the day.

10.30am: Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the Commons, takes questions on next week’s Commons business.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

Afternoon: Rishi Sunak is on a visit in north Wales.

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Maria Caulfield doing a TV interview outside the Houses of Parliament this morning. Photograph: Thomas Krych/ZUMA Press Wire/REX/Shutterstock
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