UK parliament Gaza ceasefire vote descends into chaos, SNP accuse Labour of 'hijacking' vote

UK parliament Gaza ceasefire vote descends into chaos, SNP accuse Labour of 'hijacking' vote


22 February, 2024

UK lawmakers called on Wednesday for a ceasefire in Israel's war on Gaza — but only after dozens walked out of the House of Commons in protest at how the vote was handled. Lawmakers had been debating three separate resolutions related to Israel's war on Gaza.

All were largely symbolic and not binding on the government. But Parliament descended into chaos as legislators from the ruling Conservatives party and an opposition Labour party accused Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle of upending parliamentary procedure.

The mayhem first broke out during the debate on a motion from the Scottish National Party urging an immediate ceasefire, the release of all Israeli hostages held by Hamas and “an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”. Labour then submitted a tweaked version of the motion calling for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire,” without the mention of collective punishment.

Finally, the Conservatives put forward their own amendment, which backed an “immediate humanitarian pause”, followed by “moves towards a permanent sustainable" ceasefire. When Hoyle allowed votes on all three, Conservative lawmakers were furious, saying it went against House of Commons conventions.

Some accused Hoyle — who was elected as a Labour lawmaker before taking up the neutral post of speaker — of favouring the opposition. The SNP, meanwhile, accused Labour of hijacking their motion, and said Hoyle had enabled them to do it. As a result, many Conservatives and SNP MPs walked out, and in their absence, the Labour version of the ceasefire call passed on a voice vote — by calls of “aye” — without a full formal vote.

The political mayhem is a sign of how Israel's relentless and brutal war on Gaza has divided Britain’s politicians and public, sending tensions soaring. Less than 24 hours after the uproar, Hoyle announced that there would be an emergency debate on Gaza and apologised for the part he played in the chaos last night - but said he was acting with the safety of MPs in mind.