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MPs vote against Gaza ceasefire amendment as Labour frontbenchers rebel

15 Nov 2023 6 minute read
The House of Commons. Photo House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA Wire

Eight frontbenchers have defied Sir Keir Starmer to back a Commons vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Four shadow ministers, including Jess Phillips, Yasmin Qureshi, Afzal Khan and Paula Barker – quit on Wednesday evening after deciding to support an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech backing a ceasefire.

Other frontbenchers: Rachel Hopkins, Sarah Owen, Naz Shah and Andy Slaughter; also face being sacked after breaking the party whip to back the amendment.

MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.

Abstain

Labour MPs had been ordered to abstain on the SNP move and were told instead to back Sir Keir’s position calling for longer “humanitarian pauses” rather than a ceasefire.

In a statement following the vote, Sir Keir said he regretted that party colleagues had not backed his position.

“Alongside leaders around the world, I have called throughout for adherence to international law, for humanitarian pauses to allow access for aid, food, water, utilities and medicine, and have expressed our concerns at the scale of civilian casualties.

“Much more needs to be done in this regard to ease the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Gaza.

“And in addition to addressing the present, every leader has a duty not to go back to a failed strategy of containment and neglect, but to forge a better and more secure future for both Palestinians and Israelis.

“I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight. But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand.

“Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”

Ms Phillips, a high-profile frontbencher, said it was with a “heavy heart” that she was quitting.

“I have tried to do everything that I could to make it so that this was not the outcome, but it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my post in the shadow Home Office team.

“On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart which has felt as if it were breaking over the last four weeks with the horror of the situation in Israel and Palestine,” she said in a letter to her party leader.

The multiple resignations come after Imran Hussain also quit the front bench earlier this month over Sir Keir’s stance on the Gaza war.

Cynical politicking

Speaking after the vote, Plaid Cymru Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP said: “Plaid Cymru MPs voted for a ceasefire this evening. We stood for international law, for the protection of civilians, and for peace.

“A ceasefire is not a dirty word. It isn’t controversial. The cynical politicking by the Labour Party to avoid using the words that so many people across the UK are crying out is hugely disappointing.

“Humanitarian pauses, as proposed by Labour, are deeply insufficient. Pauses, by their very nature, mean that hundreds if not thousands more will be killed once the fighting resumes. Plaid Cymru MPs could not, in good conscience, support such a proposal.

“Wales, through our Senedd, made a powerful statement for peace last week. It’s deeply saddening that most Labour and Conservative MPs from Wales decided not to make that same powerful statement this evening, and that Westminster will not join the United Nations, the World Health Organisation, Doctors Without Borders, and others, in calling for a ceasefire.

“Tonight’s vote matters immensely to people across Wales and the UK who seek a ceasefire. Their voices need to be heard. Plaid Cymru will continue urging the UK Government to join the global effort to end the human suffering.”

Shameful

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn MP criticised a “shameful” decision from the majority of MPs to vote against a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Mr Flynn proposed the motion which was defeated and quoted former Prime Minister David Cameron, who described Gaza as an “open air prison” in 2010.

He said both Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer had “ignored” the United Nations, and were “sitting on their hands” rather than helping civilians, after more than 10,000 deaths in the enclave in one month.

Mr Flynn said: “Tonight, the SNP voted in line with our values for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel. SNP MPs will be able to look themselves in the mirror knowing they did the right thing.

“It’s shameful that a majority of Tory and Labour MPs blocked calls for a ceasefire – and have condoned the continued bombardment of Gaza, which has killed thousands of children and civilians, in breach of international law.

“There is growing international momentum for an immediate ceasefire but Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer have opted out of it – and have instead chosen to repeat their parties’ past mistakes by ignoring the UN, disregarding international law and sitting on their hands while innocent civilians are being killed.

“It is clear that support for a ceasefire would have been even stronger tonight if Keir Starmer had not threatened Labour MPs with punishments if they voted for peace.

“The SNP will continue to press for an immediate ceasefire – including by piling pressure on Westminster to do the right thing. This is not over and we will not give up.”

The  56 Labour MPs who backed the SNP’s call for an immediate ceasefire were:

Tahir Ali (Birmingham, Hall Green), Rosena Allin-Khan (Tooting), Paula Barker (Liverpool, Wavertree), Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse), Clive Betts (Sheffield South East), Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central), Karen Buck (Westminster North), Richard Burgon (Leeds East), Dawn Butler (Brent Central), Ian Byrne (Liverpool, West Derby), Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill), Dan Carden (Liverpool, Walton), Sarah Champion (Rotherham), Stella Creasy (Walthamstow), Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham), Judith Cummins (Bradford South), Marsha De Cordova (Battersea), Peter Dowd (Bootle), Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central), Mary Kelly Foy (City of Durham), Barry Gardiner (Brent North), Margaret Greenwood (Wirral West), Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East), Kate Hollern (Blackburn), Rachel Hopkins (Luton South), Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton), Imran Hussain (Bradford East), Afzal Khan (Manchester, Gorton), Ian Lavery (Wansbeck), Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields), Clive Lewis (Norwich South), Rebecca Long Bailey (Salford and Eccles), Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr), Rachael Maskell (York Central), John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington), Ian Mearns (Gateshead), Grahame Morris (Easington), Kate Osamor (Edmonton), Kate Osborne (Jarrow), Sarah Owen (Luton North), Jess Phillips (Birmingham, Yardley), Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East), Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham), Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown), Naz Shah (Bradford West), Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith), Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood), Alex Sobel (Leeds North West), Zarah Sultana (Coventry South), Sam Tarry (Ilford South), Stephen Timms (East Ham), Jon Trickett (Hemsworth), Valerie Vaz (Walsall South), Nadia Whittome (Nottingham East), Beth Winter (Cynon Valley), Mohammad Yasin (Bedford).


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Sarah Good
Sarah Good
8 days ago

So in the GE where the result should be a foregone conclusion, insipid Starmer shows there is no difference between him and the Tories, colluding to enable genocide.
When people are being slaughtered, abstention and wheedling with words are the actions of a coward.

Steffan ap Huw
Steffan ap Huw
8 days ago
Reply to  Sarah Good

Despite the numbers of civilians being killed, this is not a genocide. That term is bandied around too easily, obfuscating the truth of the matter. If there’s any group guilty of genocidal intent, it’s the Palestinians – it’s written in their constitution: the eradication of Israel! The Palestinians voted for Hamas, knowing full well what that meant. Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Where is Hamas, now that its people need them? Where are their efforts to protect their citizens? They don’t care at all for their people: they are too focused on hating the Jew. There are… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by Steffan ap Huw
Alun
Alun
8 days ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Actually, the last time there was an election in Gaza, 44% voted for Hamas – not an overall majority. Hamas then took over full control by military force in 2007. There have been no elections since.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
8 days ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Sorry but it is Genocide.
Has been for 50 years.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
8 days ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

Nonsense, The Palestinian Authority which has limited autonomy in The Illegally occupied West Bank signed up to the Oslo agreement which recognises Israel’s right to exist. Have you ever been to the West Bank? and seen the system of Apartheid that exists there. Israel today has the most far right government since it’s inception.Of course Hamas violated International law with the deplorable events of October 7th but what the pro Israeli Western MSM don’t tell you is that this year there has been ethnic cleansing in The West Bank by far right Zionist militia who have been forcing Palestinians from… Read more »

The Original Mark
The Original Mark
8 days ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

You absolute clown,

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
7 days ago
Reply to  Steffan ap Huw

As someone who worked on a Kibbutz and lived amongst both Israelis and Palestinians at the time when there was very nearly peace until a right wing extremist – Yigal Amir murdered President Yitzhak Rabin) I can confirm that you are wrong (possibly dishonestly so) in most of the things you have stated. The Israeli Arabs you mention are the Druze, who live mainly in Lebanon, Sothern Syria and about 150k of them in the parts of Northern Israel (like the Golan heights) that Israel captured in the Yom Kippur war. They are a people across borders. They did not… Read more »

Last edited 7 days ago by Sarah Good
Annibendod
Annibendod
8 days ago

Just one Welsh Labour MP. Just one. Very disappointing from the plurality of our representatives.

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
8 days ago

Time for the Trade Unions to defund the Labour party with Starmer as the leader.

Rhddwen y Sais
8 days ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

The Labour Party is a lost party it carries the name but not the people who established its principals. It is lost because it tries to be all things to all people.

Rhddwen y Sais
8 days ago
Reply to  Johnny Gamble

And the BBC.

karl
karl
8 days ago
Reply to  Rhddwen y Sais

I don’t fund the right wing BBC. Home of Farage

Mr Bukhari
Mr Bukhari
8 days ago

It is a vote for Genocide of the Palestinians. Our Members of Parliament will never be forgiven for this. Have they lost their minds.? Absolutely unbelievable. They have lost it completely. If Russia invades Europe or China invades Taiwan. I will remember when you let the Palestinians down . You have given up the right to call for a Ceasefire again . Abolish the United Nations Security Council. It does nothing. You have enabled a Genocide. You have lost it completely.! Forget the Ukraine Incursion. It was just a military exercise. How foolish can people we elect be ? I… Read more »

Mawkernewek
8 days ago

Which Conservative MPs voted for a ceasefire? If Labour MPs didn’t because they valued their careers under Keir Starmer’s leadership more than peace, criticise them for that, but don’t let the Tories off the hook, which this article seems to do.

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 days ago
Reply to  Mawkernewek

We expect them to make the worst, nastiest, repulsive decision every single time in every single circumstance. Every day before they are metaphorically rotting in politics Hell Is a day too long. But Labour is the only serious hope to unseat the filthy Tories at a UK level. When we see them abandoning all their values – and those of the voters they feel are in the bag- enabling the abominable excesses of the worst creatures sub-humanity ever schit into existence we have every right to call them on it. UK GE I vote Labour. Not any more. Not whilst… Read more »

karl
karl
8 days ago

Death is a good thing, to the warmongering scum of Westminster. Indy now, we can do better. We have UN based laws and rules, obey them.

Rhddwen y Sais
8 days ago
Reply to  karl

Are you sane?

Bethan
Bethan
8 days ago

Funny sort of democratic system the UK establishment has carved out for itself. Vote the way the boss wants or kiss your career goodbye. What’s the point? Kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
8 days ago

Well said Liz Saville Roberts. Well done to those MPs who suppoertd the SNP amemdment.
Shame again to The Labour Party who will.lose the the next General Election as they have no ideas and are turning into tories.

Jeff
Jeff
8 days ago

Whatever your thoughts are on labour, using this as a stand point to put the Tory party back in power will be a monumental mistake. and don’t think the spin doctors and adherents to the Tory party will miss this and game it.
Labour, don’t be Tory lite.
But the nation has no choice, it has to remove the Cons at the next GE unless you want to continue with the ruination of the UK.

adopted cardi
adopted cardi
7 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

Hamas murdered 1200 + human beings and are rightly called terrorists, bringing undescribable terror to Israelis. The Israeli government has taken their 100 eyes for an eye – with 12,000 deaths (many buried alive), but we must not call them terrorists. Well if they are not, then I don’t know what the hell is. As for Starmer and his Labour Party, who won’t call the Israel government into question then I only hope that Labour supporters, in Wales at any rate, vote Plaid, which has Socialist values as well as Pacifist. At the outset of the Iraq war it was… Read more »

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

Not giving them a free pass for abhorrent behaviour just because the alternative is worse.
A pox on both their houses. And a tax their second houses

Sarah Good
Sarah Good
6 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

“But other people are even worse” has excused many atrocities over the years

Last edited 6 days ago by Sarah Good

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