THE House of Commons descended into chaos last week during a debate when MPs should have been discussing SNP calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Instead Speaker Lindsay Hoyle faced calls to stand down from the neutral role presiding over business in the House, and the fallout has rumbled on into a second week.

But what happened, what did Hoyle do, and what happens now?

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SNP Opposition Day

As the third largest party in Westminster, the SNP are entitled to three opposition days where they can bring forward debates on motions and topics of their choosing. Labour, as the official opposition, have more frequent opportunities to do so over the parliamentary term.

However, during the debate on Wednesday last week, Hoyle allowed a Labour amendment to be brought forward, as well as a Government one. This meant that the SNP’s unamended motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire” and condemning the “collective punishment” of Palestinians would not go to a formal vote.

This broke with parliamentary convention and went against the advice of clerks who warned Hoyle of the outcome. Instead of a debate on a serious international issue, MPs were embroiled in a furious row over archaic Westminster procedure, overshadowing the debate completely.

SNP Westminster Group leader Stephen Flynn said the debate "descended into a farce" and joined calls for Hoyle to go. 

The National:

What was behind Hoyle’s decision?

The SNP believe Hoyle broke with precedent and bowed to pressure from Labour, sparing Starmer from a vote which would have exposed divisions in his party. Starmer is alleged to have met with Hoyle before the vote and put pressure on him to make the move, something the UK Labour leader later denied.

However, the Sunday Times reports that Labour MPs gathered behind the Speaker’s chair allegedly were heard talking loudly of how “Keir is going to fix the Speaker” and Labour whip Chris Elmore was heard telling MPs to “use every procedural measure possible to delay”.

Scores of Labour MPs were set to rebel against the leader's position, in similar scenes to those during the debate on the King’s Speech, setting out the Government’s legislative agenda, where the SNP’s amendment called for an immediate ceasefire.

Hoyle apologised in the chamber but around 70 MPs, from the SNP and Tory benches, have signed an Early Day Motion calling for a vote of no confidence in him as Speaker, and he faced calls to resign over the weekend.

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Did SNP MPs walk out?

One point of contention during the whole row is whether SNP MPs walked out of the Commons in protest at the “farce” unfolding in front of them.

The MPs could be seen on Parliament TV leaving the chamber during the vote, but various front and backbenchers alike have insisted they left to wait in the voting lobby, for a vote that never came. Some Tory MPs also left the chamber.

Why are the SNP calling for an investigation?

In the wake of the initial debate, the SNP called for an investigation into claims that Starmer had influenced Hoyle’s decision to stave off a rebellion of around a potential 100 MPs.

This was refreshed on Monday after Labour MP Chris Bryant revealed during a Channel 4 interview that he was ordered to filibuster to block progress on the SNP's motion for an immediate ceasefire - and accepted “we brought ourselves terribly into disrepute”.

The National: Chris Bryant openly admitted to disrupting last week's ceasefire debate

Asked by presenter Cathy Newman whether he was "put up" to filibuster the debate, or took it upon himself to do so, Bryant admitted "a bit of both if I'm honest".

"I think the whole day was grubby, and we need a system that doesn't allow people to manipulate the rules to be able to get what they want," he said, before laughing when asked if he manipulated the rules to get his way.

The SNP have insisted this revelation shows that UK Labour leader Keir Starmer used "dirty tricks" to stop the party's motion being debated, and called for an investigation to be held.

What happens now?

Hoyle returned under intense pressure to the chamber on Monday, with Flynn raising a point of order immediately after Home Office questions. 

Hoyle had previously offered the SNP a second debate under Standing Order 24, but changed his mind come Monday's session.

Votes under Standing Order 24 tend to simply state that the House has “considered” the matter, but Hoyle’s predecessor John Bercow allowed convention to be broken under the procedure during the height of the Brexit chaos. 

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Flynn asked why his party's application for an emergency debate had been rejected, to which Hoyle set out his reasoning, including that the UK Government were due to give a statement on the conflict on Tuesday.

The Speaker said his decision did not stop the party from bringing forward a future debate when there had been a change in circumstances. 

Speaking afterwards, a furious Flynn said "Westminster is failing the people of Gaza" by blocking a vote and hit out at the "dithering and delay".