48 minutes ago
About sharingBy Chris Mason

Political editor, BBC News


The centrepiece parliamentary moment of the week is Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Normally, that means all eyes on the prime minister, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and others.

But today will feel different.

All eyes will be on the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

And for a simple reason: Can the man who famously demands “Order! Order!” actually command order and authority at Westminster’s most rowdy moment?

It’s a week on from the colossal row over a debate on the Israel-Hamas war, where the Scottish National Party felt, bluntly, that they were done over by the Speaker.

Their anger has deepened after another debate on the issue the SNP requested was rejected.

Meanwhile, the number of MPs signing a Commons motion saying they have no confidence in Sir Lindsay has ticked up to 87.

The MPs leading that campaign are persistent.

Their argument to colleagues is this: “If we don’t care about this, who will?”

They say the Speaker has to be fair and not swayed by threats from beyond the Chamber.

They think he failed spectacularly on all these points last week.

“The Speaker has to be an impartial chairman for everyone. But last week he acted in favour and with fear,” one told me, a reference to a sense that he helped the Labour Party and kowtowed to the protesters who have been frightening some MPs.

Stephen Flynn says Lindsay Hoyle “alone” is responsible for the “farce” in the Commons over calls for a Middle East ceasefire.

Few MPs beyond the Labour Party dispute that Sir Lindsay Hoyle made a mess of things last week.

But some think he’s a decent bloke who made an honest mistake and Westminster would look ridiculous if it indulged in an election to pick a new Speaker.

Enter next the Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru, who have joined the SNP in saying they have lost confidence in him.

They are not exactly a parliamentary juggernaut.

Their three MPs could all fit in the back of a taxi.

But being Speaker rests on being able to command credibility and respect across the Commons, across all the parliamentary groupings – and so losing another whole grouping, alongside the SNP, does matter.

And now, Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle frequently makes rather theatrical pleas for MPs to consider leaving and going for a cup of tea when the volume notches up a bit at PMQs.

Until now, even if it takes a few attempts, he has managed to restore order.

But how will he cope today – particularly if some MPs decide to intentionally provoke him – to see how drained his authority has become?

We’ll find out at lunchtime.

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