THE Speaker's decision to break convention over the SNP’s Gaza ceasefire motion is “up there with Boris Johnson illegally proroguing Parliament”, the party’s chief whip has said.

In an exclusive interview with the Holyrood Weekly podcast following an afternoon of chaos in the House of Commons, Owen Thompson blasted Lindsay Hoyle’s decision to allow a Labour amendment to the motion to be debated, scuppering the opportunity for MPs to formally vote on the SNP's proposition.

Hoyle was left fighting to keep his job as Speaker of the House of Commons on Thursday as scores of MPs signed a vote of no confidence motion following the “farcical” debate.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf brands Lindsay Hoyle's position 'untenable'

We told how Hoyle ignored advice from his chief adviser on parliamentary procedure not to depart from the norm as it would risk a situation where the SNP motion was not even voted on.

Labour’s amendment passed without opposition because deputy speaker Rosie Winterton declared that the “ayes have it” without going to a vote.

The move has been heavily criticised by both the SNP and the Tories.

‘Serious questions’

Thompson has also called for an investigation into Hoyle’s decision, after Labour leader Keir Starmer personally intervened and urged the Speaker to allow his party’s motion to be debated, reportedly to stave off a rebellion from his MPs.

Thompson told The National’s podcast that there were a “couple of examples” of former speaker John Bercow overruling advice from Commons clerks over Brexit.

“The suggestion I've heard from some is that he [Bercow] was seen to be doing that to try and protect the constitution and all that sort of stuff,” Thompson explained.

The National:

“It wasn't a party political thing. He was doing it on the back of a sort of a belief that he was doing the right thing to protect the constitution.

“So some are saying that in many ways, actually, what Hoyle did last night, because it appears to be outwardly political to protect the Labour Party, that it's worse by a magnitude than anything Bercow did.

“It’s up there with Boris Johnson illegally proroguing parliament. That’s the kind of level it's on.”

Johnson's advice to the Queen that suspending the Westminster parliament in 2019 at the height of the Brexit process was later found to be unlawful. Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed that the former Tory prime minister’s advice to the late monarch was “unlawful, void and of no effect”.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf attacks Anas Sarwar 'flip-flopping' in furious FMQs row

Thompson added the advice from Commons clerks was “very clear” and he didn’t understand why Hoyle had ignored it.

“I mean, you’re seeing all the reports about the potential that he’d been bullied or intimidated into it by Keir Starmer directly, there clearly needs to be an investigation into what went on there and how this advice happened,” he said.

Thompson added: “There are some really serious questions to be answered about all this.”

‘Labour in a spin’

Starmer said on Thursday afternoon that he “categorically denied” threatening Hoyle over the amendment selection to avoid a Labour rebellion, but he admitted having urged him to move the Labour amendment.

Earlier, former Labour leader of the House of Commons Geoff Hoon told LBC that Hoyle was “reflecting the multi-party situation” by allowing the amendment to be heard.

“Part of the problem is the rules of the procedure of the House were developed in the days when there was a Government and an official opposition, and don’t really reflect the modern situation where there are a range of different parties putting forward amendments and motions,” he said.

Thompson laughed when Hoon’s comments were put to him. He said: “I'm chuckling because I heard that almost word for word from Neil Kinnock [below] on the telly last night – it is almost word for word.

The National: Former leader of the Labour Party, Neil Kinnock.

“That's clearly the Labour line, that this was somehow done to protect …

“There's two things to that – if you want to look at changing these sort of things, fair enough.

“The Speaker asked the Procedure committee to have a look at how this could be made better or changed or whatever – fair enough.”

But Thompson argued that the timing of the decision – around a debate that has had plenty of attention and build-up – was of concern.

He added: “Why do it at the point where that's literally happening and not at a point where you take the time to step back and you allow things to happen, and then you introduce a new process – you don't just unilaterally decide a new process, implement it immediately without talking to anyone, and then ask somebody else to go and look at it.

“So that on one side is a total nonsense.”

READ MORE: Labour's behaviour reveals the brutal truth about British politics

Thompson also said that if the Speaker had wanted to consider views from a range of parties, then he would have also included the LibDems' amendment.

He said: “If he actually wanted to make sure that all the views were being considered, well, why didn't he take that one as well?

“They can’t square that circle, Labour are in full spin on this because they know they've been caught trying to get around rules to protect their own interests and solve a problem.

“I mean, there's reports that they were facing a rebellion of up to 100 or more of their MPs who wanted to vote for our motion.”

‘A distraction’

Thompson admitted that it was “debatable” whether or not the SNP’s amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire would have passed had MPs been able to vote on it. However, he criticised the use of “unauthorised methods” being used to block the discussion from happening.

The debate came as reports said that more than 29,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, had been killed by Israeli attacks. Yet the humanitarian scale of the conflict was mired instead by bickering over Westminster procedure and left many MPs frustrated.

“We wanted to have a focus on all of the issues around the situation in Gaza, the need for a ceasefire and unfortunately the antics of some have caused a bit of a distraction to that,” Thompson said.

“But we kept our focus and it was just disappointing the way it ended up, in terms of the fact that it was meant to be our opposition day and we didn't even get to have a vote on the motion that we put forward.”

Thompson also hit back at claims from Labour that the SNP had been engaging in a “political stunt” by calling the debate, insisting that the party’s position had been consistent since the attacks on October 7.

However, as the amendment Labour motion passed, which still called for a ceasefire despite the controversy around it, Thompson said he was glad some good had come from the chaos.

READ MORE: MPs sign no confidence motion in Speaker - see the full list

He added: “If I take a step back from it I'm pleased that the Commons has adopted the position and support of an immediate ceasefire.

“I'm also pleased that we've managed to drag UK Labour kicking and screaming into a position of support for an immediate ceasefire.”

He added that SNP MPs had been intending to vote for the Labour amendment, had they been given the opportunity to do so.

The National’s Holyrood Weekly podcast will be available to stream on our website, Spotify and the Omny streaming platform on Friday.