Starmer says he wants Labour to be ‘as united as we can’ after Gaza vote split

Starmer Says He Wants Labour To Be ‘As United As We Can’ After Gaza Vote Split
The Labour MPs split from Sir Keir’s stance in order to back an SNP amendment in the King’s Speech debate, which was ultimately defeated.
Share this article

By David Hughes, Sam Blewett and Jacob Phillips, PA

Sir Keir Starmer said he wanted Labour to be “as united as we can” after the loss of 10 shadow ministers and parliamentary aides in a major rebellion over his stance on the war in Gaza.

Jess Phillips, the shadow minister for domestic violence, was among the frontbenchers who either quit or were sacked so they could back a ceasefire in a Commons vote.


A total of 56 Labour MPs defied their party leader’s position of advocating for pauses in fighting so they could support a cessation.

But Sir Keir said he was more focused on the plight of people in Gaza than managing the splits within Labour.

“Of course I want us to move forward as united as we can as a party, but you wouldn’t expect me to stand here today and say my concern is the Labour Party management rather than the hostages and the innocent civilians and children that are dying in Gaza,” he told ITV News.


“My focus and attention is there, and that’s where it is and where it will always be.”

The Labour MPs split from Sir Keir’s stance in order to back an SNP amendment in the King’s Speech debate, which was ultimately defeated.

Lisa Nandy, a former chairwoman of Labour Friends of Palestine and shadow international development minister, said the splits were an “inevitable consequence” of the “heartfelt and genuine” views across the party.

Parliamentary private secretaries Dan Carden and Mary Foy, who had been working with deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner, joined them in leaving their positions.


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

But 56 Labour MPs backed the position, rejecting their party leader’s stance and defying a three-line whip.



Among the other shadow ministers who are now backbenchers are Yasmin Qureshi, Afzal Khan, Paula Barker, Rachel Hopkins, Sarah Owen, Naz Shah and Andy Slaughter.

Ms Nandy told reporters at a press gallery lunch: “In the end, as a member of Parliament, you have to be able to live with yourself, with the decisions you have made and live with your own conscience.

“Jess is a friend of mine, Sarah Owen is a friend of mine, Paula Barker is a friend of mine.

“They’re a real loss to the frontbench, but I know they will do incredible things and make an incredible contribution from wherever they sit in Parliament,”

She said a “series of humanitarian pauses”, not a ceasefire, was the best way to create the conditions for an end to violence and a long-term solution.

“At the current time, humanitarian pauses are the only viable prospect.”

But she also said that Labour did not believe that Hamas could be destroyed militarily, as Israel continues to bombard Gaza.

“We have reservations about whether you can militarily destroy Hamas. Hamas is an ideology as much as it is a terrorist organisation.

“In the end, there is no military solution to this conflict. But we absolutely support the right of Israel to defend itself.”

Mrs Phillips, a prominent 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.

Amid the fallout of the vote, shadow defence secretary John Healey also said there is a “deeper unity” in the Labour Party than the rebellion indicated.

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by