Keir Starmer braces for Labour revolt on Gaza in House of Commons voteNovember 15, 2023
Keir Starmer braces for Labour revolt on Gaza in Commons vote next week as he again dismisses calls for immediate ceasefire
Sir Keir Starmer is braced for a Labour revolt in a House of Commons vote next week over his stance on the Middle East crisis.
The Labour leader faces the possibility of MPs being given a vote on calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which could see a huge rebellion against him.
Both the SNP and a group of Labour backbench rebels are attempting to force a Commons vote on the issue by tabling amendments to the King’s Speech.
It threatens to prompt a fresh meltdown in Labour ranks, with Sir Keir having so far defied huge pressure on him to support a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The Labour leader has already suffered a front bench resignation and open defiance from other shadow ministers and backbench MPs over his stance.
Hundreds of local Labour councillors have also protested against Sir Keir’s position.
But, during a visit to the West Midlands yesterday, the Labour leader refused to budge.
Sir Keir Starmer was quizzed about the deep splits within Labour during a question-and-answer event at the offices of the Express & Star newspaper in Wolverhampton
The Labour leader faces the possibility of MPs being given a vote on calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza , which could see a huge rebellion against him
Smoke rises following strikes on the northern part of the Gaza Strip on Friday, as seen from Sderot in Israel
Sir Keir was quizzed about the deep splits within Labour during a question-and-answer event at the offices of the Express & Star newspaper in Wolverhampton.
He was asked if he would reconsider his position on calls for a ceasefire following the resignation of Imran Hussain as a shadow minister.
Sir Keir replied: ‘I have set out my position in relation to a ceasefire.
‘There was obviously an awful terrorist attack on the 7th of October by Hamas, which nobody would support or could support.
‘With the killing of men and women, children, babies, and the taking of 200 hostages who are still being held in tunnels in Gaza.
‘So, to say to Israel – while its citizens are still being held – ‘you should have a ceasefire’ in my view is inconsistent with saying it’s their right to try and get their hostages back.
‘If hostages were taken from this country, we would be doing everything we could to get them back.
‘We wouldn’t take kindly to somebody saying ‘I am afraid we don’t think you should be doing that’.’
The Labour leader reiterated his view – shared by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other Western countries – that there should be a ‘humanitarian pause’ in the fighting to allow water, food, fuel and medicines into Gaza.
Sir Keir also tried to shrug off the divisions within his party by suggesting demands for a ceasefire stemmed from a shared desire to end the loss of innocent lives.
He added: ‘In terms of the differences in the Labour Party… I am not going to pretend they are not there. They all actually come from the same place.
‘When we see those images of innocent people struggling, dying, in Gaza, we all want it to stop. That’s a human emotion.’
The SNP intends to seek a vote on its King’s Speech amendment, which calls on the UK Government to ‘join with the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire’.
The party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said Mr Sunak and Sir Keir ‘cannot just sit on their hands’ while ‘collective punishment’ takes place.
A backbench Labour-led amendment seeking an immediate ceasefire – supported by ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former shadow ministers John McDonnell, Richard Burgon and Diane Abbott – has also been tabled.
It will be for Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to decide if any of the amendments are selected for consideration, which would pave the way for a vote.
The King’s Speech debate comes to an end on November 15. It is at this point that votes usually take place.
Sir Keir declined to say if he would grant a free vote to shadow ministers on the issue.
‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,’ he said. ‘We haven’t got to the end of the debate yet.
‘We don’t know what the amendments are, and we certainly don’t know what’s going to be called forward for a vote.
‘So I am not going to speculate as to a vote that may or may not happen next week.’
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