June 21, 2024

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Keir Starmer set to dodge Labour rebellion on Gaza after controversial Speaker decision

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Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer was set to dodge a large-scale rebellion of Labour MPs on Gaza on Wednesday after a controversial decision by the House of Commons Speaker sparked outcry in Westminster.

The move by Sir Lindsay Hoyle to allow a vote on a Labour amendment in a debate on a ceasefire defused the risk of multiple resignations from the party’s front bench.

But Conservative MPs criticised Hoyle’s decision as favouring Labour, while the Commons clerk said it was a “departure from the long-established convention”.

One Conservative MP said that Hoyle was “moving the goalposts”.

The debate was at the initiative of the Scottish National party, which has pushed for months for an immediate ceasefire and sought to expose internal divisions over Labour’s more hesitant position on ending the hostilities.

Labour insiders had been braced for a rebellion of up to 100 MPs on Wednesday evening if they had been unable to vote for the party’s own amendment, including some shadow cabinet resignations.

However, the decision to allow a vote on the Labour amendment means that MPs who feel strongly about the issue will now be less likely to defy the whip by supporting the SNP motion.

The amendment calls for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” in Gaza but this is dependent on certain conditions being met.

There had been expectations that parliamentary procedure could mean the Labour amendment could not be voted on because the government had produced its own amendment to the SNP motion.

In his highly unusual criticism of Hoyle’s decision as a break with convention, Tom Goldsmith, the Commons clerk, said: “Long-established principles are not being followed in this case.”

But the Speaker said it was important for the Commons to consider “the widest possible range of options” given the strength of feeling among MPs.

The Labour…

2024-02-21 10:20:06

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