Keir Starmer denies pressuring Commons Speaker Hoyle ahead of Gaza vote chaos

Sir Keir Starmer has “categorically” denied threatening Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to select Labour’s amendment in the Gaza ceasefire debate, in a move that unleashed parliamentary chaos.

Sir Lindsay came under pressure amid accusations he helped the Labour leader avoid another damaging revolt over the Middle East issue by upending parliamentary convention in approving Labour’s bid to alter an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Questions have been mounting about what discussions were had before the vote amid Tory and SNP suggestions that the Opposition sought to influence his controversial decision.

Speaking in Sussex, the Labour leader said: “I can categorically tell you that I did not threaten the Speaker in any way whatsoever.

“I simply urged to ensure that we have the broadest possible debate so that actually the most important thing, which is what do we do about the situation in Gaza, could be properly discussed by MPs with a number of options in front of them.”

Meanwhile, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, who launched a blistering attack on Sir Lindsay as the commotion unfolded in the chamber, defended him on Thursday as a “decent man” as she directed her criticism at Sir Keir.

The senior Cabinet minister told MPs that Wednesday’s “shameful events” were nothing “other than party politics on behalf of the Labour Party”.

“We have seen into the heart of Labour’s leadership. Nothing is more important than the interests of the Labour Party. The Labour Party before principle, the Labour Party before individual rights, the Labour Party before the reputation and honour of the decent man that sits in Speaker’s chair. The Labour Party before fairness, integrity and democracy.”

Downing Street repeatedly refused to say whether Rishi Sunak has confidence in the Speaker.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said on Thursday: “The Prime Minister’s focus is on addressing the situation in the Middle East.

“And as I say, that is what he’s spending his time focused on. Matters for the House, as I say, are matters for the House.”

Nearly 60 MPs have signed a so-called early day motion tabled by a Tory MP declaring no confidence in the Speaker.

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