MPs vote against Gaza ceasefire amendment as Labour frontbenchers rebel
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.
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.
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.”
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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