Imran Hussain: Labour frontbencher resigns in support of Gaza ceasefire | Labour

The shadow minister Imran Hussain has resigned from Keir Starmer’s Labour frontbench in order to “be able to strongly advocate for a ceasefire” in Gaza.

“Over recent weeks, it has become clear that my view on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from the position you have adopted,” Hussain said in a resignation letter to Starmer published on social media.

“A ceasefire is essential to ending the bloodshed, to ensuring that enough aid can pass into Gaza and reach those most in need, and to help ensure the safe return of the Israeli hostages.”

He said he had been “proud” to work alongside Sir Keir and his deputy Angela Rayner in developing a plan for employment rights, but could not “in all good conscience” push for a cessation of hostilities while remaining part of the frontbench.

The Bradford East MP, who was a shadow minister for work, said he had been “deeply troubled” by Starmer’s comments during an LBC interview on 11 October where said his party leader appeared to endorse Israel cutting off water and power to the Gaza Strip; and while Starmer had since clarified his remarks, “I believe the party needs to go further and call for a ceasefire”.

I want to be able to strongly advocate for a ceasefire, as called for by the UN General Secretary. In order to be fully free to do so, I have tonight stepped down from Labour’s Frontbench.

My letter below:

— Imran Hussain MP (@Imran_HussainMP) November 7, 2023

“I have unequivocally condemned Hamas’s attacks of 7 October and I firmly agree that every country has the right to defend itself. This however can never become a right to deliberately violate international law on protecting civilians or to commit war crimes,” he wrote.

Starmer has argued that a ceasefire in the current war would freeze the status quo and that Hamas’s murder of 1,400 people on 7 October, and the group’s stated intention to strike again and again makes this untenable.

The Labour leader has followed the White House in calling for humanitarian pauses to allow aid to get into Gaza. Labour backs a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

The Labour leader of Burnley borough council resigned along with 10 other councillors in protest at Starmer’s refusal to call for a ceasefire; while at least 330 Labour councillors have signed a letter urging Starmer to back a ceasefire.

Senior Labour figures including the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, and Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, have also been among those to challenge Starmer’s stance. Sixteen Labour frontbenchers and a third of the entire parliamentary party have either called for a ceasefire or shared others’ calls backing a ceasefire on social media, including Yasmin Qureshi and Jess Phillips.

The Labour leadership has sought to toughen its line towards Israel. David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, after visiting the region said the “number of dead Palestinian civilians and children is shocking” as he called on Israel to take further steps to stop a “humanitarian catastrophe”, including a pause in the fighting. Lammy said that Israel “must uphold international law” and also warned of violence in the West Bank.

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