What Sir Lindsay Hoyle must do now to hang on to his job as Speaker - analysis by Christopher Hope

What Sir Lindsay Hoyle must do now to hang on to his job as Speaker - analysis by Christopher Hope

Geoffrey Cox blasted Sir Lindsay Hoyle

GB News
Christopher Hope

By Christopher Hope

Published: 23/02/2024

- 22:41

MPs might be back in their constituencies this weekend, but I would not - just yet - say that Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is out of the woods just yet.

The number of MPs signing a no confidence in Sir Lindsay increased by four to 71 by late Friday afternoon.

Unlike a vote of no confidence in a Conservative party leader, there is no threshold above which a debate must be organised so MPs can vote on the future of the Speaker.

Some rebels think that the threshold has already passed. One MP tells me: "I think we should be already there - this is unprecedented and three times the number that signed Michael Martin EDM."

Sir Lindsay Hoyle

Sir Lindsay Hoyle has come under a lot of criticism for his decision


This refers to the 22 MPs who signed a motion saying they had lost confidence in then-speaker Michael Martin at the height of the MP expenses scandal in 2009. He was gone within in two days.

The new line in the sand for MPs is 15 per cent of all MPs - 97 in total. If that threshold is reached it "would be significant" and hard for the Government to resist organising a vote on the Speaker's future.

The rebel MP added: "There are still a few more to go on - few Members never sign EDM’s and so are reluctant and waiting for other people to do the deed.

"There are also a few who will sign on Monday as they already left Parliament and don’t know how to use the online system."

How did Sir Lindsay - who is very well liked by MPs and journalists - get into this mess?

MPs walking out of House of Commons

SNP and Conservative MPs stormed out of the Commons


For me, he simply allowed his personal concern for other MPs' safety to get in the way of his duty to protect the independence of the office of the Speaker.

That was why he accepted Labour's amendment to the SNP motion on Gaza - thereby allowing Labour MPs to vote for the party's policy on the war with Israel, rather than forcing them to back the SNP's policy or the alternative Government motion.

And that is why SNP and Tory MPs walked out of the Chamber on Wednesday. Conservative MPs tell me they were cross that by accepting the second amendment, they would in effect be forced to vote twice against an immediate ceasefire.

And they were also cross that the Speaker was getting Labour MPs off the hook on a vote which would have caused them political difficulty by not voting for the SNP's wording on a ceasefire.

And the SNP's MPs were cross that they had lost control of one of the few days every year they get to call the shots on the floor of the House of Commons.

There is considerable sympathy for Hoyle - and it is telling that Cabinet ministers appear to be targeting Labour for putting Hoyle in a difficult position, rather than question the future of the Speaker.

It is hard to escape the notion that the row this week has helped both major parties, by giving Labour MPs a vote on Gaza in line with the party's policy, and leaving a weakened Speaker who surely will now think twice before getting cross with the Tory government again.

And Hoyle faces serious problems if he wants to carry on as Speaker. It surely is untenable for him to carry on as Speaker when the SNP's 43 MPs do not have confidence in him?

He can't keep apologising - he will have to make a gesture next week. That could involve a statement from the Speaker's Chair, chastising Labour for pressuring him to accept the party's Gaza amendment.

Either way the number of MPs signing the motion of no confidence in him might continue to tick up.

And then it might be harder for Government whips to ignore pressure for a vote of no confidence in the Speaker, a moment which he might not survive in office.

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