Labour leader warned expelling Nato-sceptic MPs could spark civil war
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has been warned he could ignite a civil war in his party if he follows through with threats to expel Nato-sceptic MPs.
He told Times Radio on Tuesday he will be “very clear and firm” with MPs questioning the party’s “unshakeable support” for the military alliance.
“We’ve been very clear about the expectations of our Members of Parliament when it comes to issues like antisemitism, when it comes to the false equivalence that some argue between Russian aggression and the acts of Nato,” he said.
Asked if he would act against his MPs, he answered: “Yes, these are principles that are absolutely the root of the Labour Party.”
Last month a Welsh Labour MP who signed a statement by Stop the War criticising NATO’s ‘eastward expansion’ following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, removed her name after being told she could lose the Labour whip.
Labour briefed that the Shadow Chief Whip had written to all 11 Labour MPs on the list, including Beth Winter the MP for Cynon Valley.
Their names later disappeared from the list of signatories on the Stop the War website.
The letter did not condone Russia but included a section that says that “NATO should call a halt to its eastward expansion and commit to a new security deal for Europe which meets the needs of all states and peoples.”
“We refute the idea that NATO is a defensive alliance, and believe its record in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia and Libya over the last generation, not to mention the US-British attack on Iraq, clearly proves otherwise,” the letter adds.
The letter had also been signed by Sandra Holliday of Rhondda Cynon Taf Welsh Labour Grassroots.
Responding to Sir Keir’s comments today, left-wing campaign group Momentum vowed to fight against any such moves.
Mish Rahman, a senior Momentum figure on Labour’s National Executive Committee, said: “Keir ran on a platform to end factionalism, unite the Labour Party and defeat the Tories. But after months of attacks on the Left, this anti-democratic move would spell the end of the Labour Party as we know it.
“A broad church which has held together for over a century would be torn down, wrecking Labour’s prospects with young people and minority communities represented by a new generation of left-wing Labour MPs of colour.
“There is absolutely no mandate within Labour for such divisive, authoritarian action in the party, and we would fight it all the way.”
It comes after The Times earlier reported that Sir Keir’s allies are urging him to purge “hard-left” MPs from the party before the next general election in a bid to further distance himself from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.
In their sights are understood to be MPs who signed the Stop The War Coalition statement, which also included Diane Abbott, John McDonnell, Richard Burgon, Ian Lavery, Zarah Sultana, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Apsana Begum, Mick Whitley, Tahir Ali and Ian Mearns.
The letter was also signed by Jeremy Corbyn who has already lost the whip.
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