Keir Starmer faces rebellion as shadow cabinet and backbench MPs vote for Gaza ceasefire
Despite warnings made by the Labour Leader that he intended to fire any shadow minister who supported a Gaza ceasefire in key commons votes, 11 of Keir Starmer’s Front Bench team and 56 of his backbench MPs chose to defy the party leader, Sir Keir Starmer’s call for them not to support the SNP motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. As chants bellowed from hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters outside the Houses of Parliament last night, during the Kings Speech debate in a rally organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War, news broke of the mass resignations within Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet
Exodus of Labour front bench MPs resign their posts to vote for ceasefire
10 front bench Labour MPs, joined the example set by the earlier resignation of Bradford MP, Imran Hussain, and have stepped down from their roles in the shadow cabinet. One by one they delivered passionate speeches in the chamber of the commons - with some of the most senior shadow ministers citing the gruesome ‘scale of the bloodshed’ in Gaza and the killing of so many innocent women and children.
They each echoed an overwhelming belief, that they had little choice but to support the SNP motion order calling for a ceasefire. Resigning their ministerial positions, they explained, ensured that they did not breach the ‘collective responsibility’ protocols, thus allowing them in good conscience to support the sentiments of the majority of their constituents and their own consciences in order to vote in favour of the SNP motion. They were joined by 56 Labour backbenchers, who all refused to support Keir Starmer’s spoiler amendment – which called for extended humanitarian pauses. Instead they voted to support the SNP motion for a permanent ceasefire.
In a letter to Sir Keir Starmer, which echoed her statement in the commons debate, former Shadow Justice Minister, Yasmin Qureshi wrote:
‘The scale of the bloodshed is unprecedented. Over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in a month. The UN warned that Gaza has become a ‘graveyard for children,’ as 4,609 of those killed were children. According to Save the Children, this figure surpasses the total number of children killed across the world’s conflict zones since 2019. This is a hideous stain on our common humanity.’
The biggest rebellion faced by the opposition leader since taking office
The resignations, despite representing the biggest split faced by the party leader since he assumed office, were actually not as large as had been predicted. As many as eighteen frontbenchers in the last few weeks have publicly backed a full and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and at least 60 backbenchers had expressed support for a ceasefire motion.
The Resigning Shadow Cabinet MPS and Junior Shadow Ministers are listed below:
Jess Phillips – MP for Birmingham Yardley & Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding
Naz Shah – MP for Bradford West & Shadow Minister for Crime Reduction
Afzal Khan – MP for Manchester Gorton & Shadow Minister for Exports
Yasmin Qureshi – MP for Bolton South East & Former Justice, International Development & Women & Equalities Minister
Andy Slaughter – MP for Hammersmith & Shadow Solicitor General and former Justice Minister
Sarah Owen – MP for Luton North & Shadow Minister for Local Government & Faith
Paula Barker – MP for Liverpool Wavertree & Shadow Minister for Devolution and the English Regions
Rachael Hopkins – MP for Luton South & Shadow Minister for Veterans
Imran Hussain – MP for Bradford East & Shadow Minister for the New Deal for Working People
Mary Foy – MP for Durham & Parliamentary Private Secretary
Dan Carden – MP for Liverpool Walton & Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Backbencher Labour MP for Polar and Limehouse, Apsana Begum who has been particularly outspoken in publicly calling for a ceasefire since the outbreak of hostilities, was adamant that the Labour Party should change its position. She said:
‘The ongoing dehumanisation and collective punishment of Palestinians will be marked in history as a crime against humanity. It is vital that the Labour Party stand up against war crimes and be counted’
The vote in the commons last night was largely symbolic and both the SNP motion and the Labour motion were never expected to pass.
MPs voted 290 to 183, a majority of 107, to reject Keir Starmer’s (Labour's) King's Speech amendment calling for longer "humanitarian pauses" in Gaza.
The SNP's King's Speech amendment calling for "all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire" in Gaza was also rejected 293 to 125.
Richard Burgon, the Labour MP for Leeds East and Former Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor, had days earlier addressed pro-Palestinian marches in central London and had promised to re-submit a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM), calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
He pointed out that despite the motion which called for ‘protecting civilians in Gaza and Israel’ and demanding an immediate ceasefire, being tabled just as parliament went into recess on 26th October, it had garnered as many as 90 signatories form across eight parties. He says that he expects the re-submission to obtain a significantly higher number of signatories, the second time around.
Constituents protest outside the Labour Party offices of Rushnara Ali in Bethnal Green and Bow
Of particular note were the responses to the vote from certain other senior members of the Labour party, particularly those with high Muslim constituencies. These include Rushnara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow and Tulip Siddiq – Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn & Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury, both of whom abstained from voting. Such has been the disappointment of their constituents, that protests have been organised outside their offices.