SNP and Conservative MPs are reportedly furious with House of Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, for how he arranged today’s vote on calling for a ceasefire in Gaza – with one Conservative tabling a motion of no confidence in him.

Here’s what you need to know.

What did the SNP Gaza ceasefire motion say?

Today (Wednesday) is an SNP “opposition day” – a special day in the parliamentary calendar set aside for a non-governing party to present issues it particularly cares about to fellow MPs.

As the official opposition, Labour gets to control most of these days, but on this occasion, the day’s business was set aside for the SNP as the second largest opposition party in Westminster.

The SNP tabled a motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel”. The motion “condemns any military assault on what is now the largest refugee camp in the world” and “further calls for the immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.

What did Labour’s amendment to the Gaza ceasefire motion say?

Labour proposed an amendment to the SNP motion which, as well as describing the “loss of Palestinian life” as “intolerable”, calls for an “immediate stop to the fighting and a ceasefire” that “lasts and is observed by all sides”.

The Labour wording spells out explicitly a concern that some commentators sympathetic to Israel have raised in response to pro-Palestinian activists demanding a ceasefire. The Labour motion “not[es] that Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence and that Israelis have the right to the assurance that the horror of 7 October 2023 cannot happen again”.

What did the Conservative government’s amendment to the Gaza motion say?

The government also proposed its own amendment, emphasising support for “Israel’s right to self-defence, in compliance with international humanitarian law”, and highlighting and condemning “the slaughter, abuse and gender-based violence perpetrated on 7 October 2023”.

The government’s text also “reaffirms the urgent need to significantly scale up the flow of aid into Gaza, where too many innocent civilians have died” and “calls on all parties to take immediate steps to stop the fighting and ensure unhindered humanitarian access.”

Why was Lindsay Hoyle’s decision on the Gaza vote controversial?

As Speaker, it’s up to Lindsay Hoyle to decide which amendments are considered and in what order. The expectation on opposition days is that the party in charge gets to move their motion first – in this case, it would be the SNP.

But on this occasion, the Speaker picked the Labour amendment.

This was met with consternation by SNP and Conservative MPs, with one reportedly describing the decision as “overtly political”.

The complaint from some is that the day was structured like this to help Labour avoid a tight political spot.

Keir Starmer’s whips had previously asked their MPs to abstain on the SNP motion. But with Commons business arranged in this way, Labour can reduce the threat of MPs rebelling and backing the SNP proposal in defiance of their leader.

Responding to the decision, one of Parliament’s most senior officials, the Clerk of the House of Commons Tom Goldsmith, wrote to the Speaker to “put on record his view”.

While Mr Goldsmith acknowledged that Mr Hoyle’s actions are “not specifically precluded” by any of the Standing Orders that govern parliamentary procedures, he said he felt “compelled to point out that long-established conventions are not being followed in this case”.

Announcing his decision to MPs, Lindsay Hoyle said that in his opinion, Standing Order 31 (which sets out how opposition day debates are run), “reflects an outdated approach”. He said that his alternative arrangement “will allow a vote to take place potentially on all proposals from each of the three main parties”.

“I think it is important on this occasion that the House is able to consider the widest possible range of options”, he said.