June 25, 2024

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Starmer faces front-bench unrest over SNP motion for Gaza ceasefire

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Sir Keir Starmer is braced for a spate of resignations or sackings on Wednesday, as some of the Labour leader’s frontbenchers consider disobeying him and backing a call for a Gaza ceasefire. 

Following a debate on the King’s Speech, the Scottish National Party has tabled an amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire. If selected by the House of Commons Speaker, a vote will follow.

That poses a dilemma for close to 20 Labour frontbenchers who have publicly called for a ceasefire, in defiance of Starmer’s backing for a temporary “humanitarian pause”.

Labour MPs have been told by party whips that they will be ordered to abstain on the SNP amendment. They face being sacked from any front bench job if they support it.

Imran Hussain was forced to resign as shadow minister for employment rights last week after he defied the leadership and signed a parliamentary motion calling for a ceasefire. 

Labour has drawn up its own, more nuanced amendment that is intended to appeal to all sides of the party. A spokesperson has said it “reflects our concerns about what we’ve seen on the ground in the last fortnight”.

But Starmer is braced for a rebellion by frontbenchers as pressure mounts on them from activists and constituents to take a stronger position against the Israeli bombardments which have so far cost more than 11,000 lives in Gaza, according to the health ministry there. “I’d be surprised if we don’t have a clutch of resignations,” said one shadow minister. 

The Labour leader is keen to demonstrate party discipline during a week in which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was forced to sack his home secretary and undertake a major cabinet reshuffle. 

Starmer has argued that a ceasefire would leave Hamas with the infrastructure and capability to carry out more terrorist attacks of the sort which killed at least 1,400 Israelis on…



2023-11-14 13:51:41

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