Emotional Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle says he is ‘guilty of looking after MPs’ facing ‘frightening’ threats | Politics News
An emotional Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he never wants to pick up the phone “to find a friend has been murdered” – as he defended his actions in the Commons on Wednesday.
The Commons Speaker is facing a backlash for allowing a vote on a Labour amendment to an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
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Usually there would only be a government amendment to an opposition motion, but Sir Lindsay said he wanted all sides to have a say given the importance of the topic, and the fact MPs are facing increasing levels of abuse over their views on the war.
However some Conservative and SNP MPs have accused Sir Lindsay – a former Labour MP who must be impartial in his current role – of making a “political decision” and said they no longer have confidence in him.
Having already apologised for the chaos that ensued last night Sir Lindsay again said sorry to MPs today.
“I made a mistake – we do make mistakes, I own up to mine,” he said.
But he stressed the safety of MPs was at the forefront of his mind when he made the decision – revealing that he had held meetings with police yesterday about threats posed to MPs.
“I will defend every member in this House. Both sides, I never ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find a friend, whatever side, has been murdered by terrorists.
“I also don’t want an attack on this House.”
Sir Lindsay said “the details of the things that have been brought to me are absolutely frightening”.
Appearing emotional, he added: “I am guilty because I have a duty of care that I will carry out to protect people. It is the protection that led me to make the wrong decision.”
In an olive branch move, Sir Lindsay offered to grant an emergency debate on the issue of a ceasefire in Gaza.
However the SNP remain unimpressed and have withdrawn their support for Sir Lindsay.
His decision to allow the Labour amendment resulted in the government boycotting the proceedings, so Labour’s motion was passed on the nod and there was no vote on the SNP’s – even though it was their opposition day debate.
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said this was a matter of “grave concern”.
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However many politicians have jumped to his defence – with some Tories turning the heat on Labour for allegedly putting pressure on Sir Lindsay to select the Opposition party’s amendment.
This is something Sir Keir Starmer has “categorically” denied, saying that he “simply urged” the Commons Speaker to have “the broadest possible debate” by putting a number of options in front of MPs.
The conversation around MPs’ safety returned to the spotlight earlier this month when Tory MP Mike Freer announced he was stepping down at the next election following death threats and an arson attack on his office.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has also told Sky News she “no longer goes out” socially because of threats and abuse and that she was “scared” when confronted by pro-Palestinian supporters.
Former defence minister Tobias Elwood has also warned of a growing trend of protesters going to MPs’ houses after a pro-Palestine demonstration went on for hours outside his home earlier this month.
It all follows the murders in recent years of MPs Jo Cox and Sir David Amess in their constituencies.