Blow for Starmer as Labor leader quits over Labor leader’s refusal to back Gaza ceasefire

A Labor MP resigned in order to vote for the Gaza ceasefire, a major blow to the authorities. At least three others have said they will defy their party leader and support the call for an immediate end to the fighting.

Yasmin Qureshi, shadow minister for women and equalities and MP for Bolton South, said: “The scale of the bloodshed in Gaza is unprecedented. Tonight I will vote for an immediate ceasefire.

“We must call for an end to the slaughter to protect innocent lives and end human suffering. With regret, I have resigned as shadow women and equalities minister.'

The Labor leader called for a humanitarian pause in the war and warned that a full ceasefire would “encourage” Hamas to regroup and plan more atrocities.

“We must call for an end to the slaughter to protect innocent lives and end human suffering”

(PA)

Labor MPs were told to back the party's amendment to the King's Speech later, which calls for longer humanitarian pauses in Gaza.

They are also under a three-line whip to avoid the SNP's amendment calling for a ceasefire, meaning shadow ministers are almost certain to be sacked if they rebel to support it.

While more than 70 Labor MPs publicly backed calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, a Labor spokesman said the Commons vote was a different matter, adding: “This is a whip vote and every MP knows what that means.” .

During Wednesday's Commons debate, Naz Shah became the first Labor MP to tell MPs she intended to support “the amendment seeking an immediate ceasefire”.

Sir Keir Starmer called for longer humanitarian pauses, instead of a ceasefire

(House of Commons/Parliament of the United Kingdom)

She was followed by shadow minister Helen Hayes, who told the Commons that “a ceasefire is certainly the minimum we should be demanding in the face of such appalling suffering”, adding: “My conscience tells me that I must call for a ceasefire today”.

With a host of other frontbenchers expected to vote in favor of the SNP amendment, Sir Keir braced himself on Wednesday for one of the major tests he has faced since winning the leadership.

Some reports suggested that rather than resign before the vote, colleagues had advised the chairmen to just vote and see if Sir Keir would sack them.

Israeli soldiers were conducting a military operation at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Wednesday

(Israel Defense Forces/AFP via Getty Images)

Labour's decision not to back a ceasefire also prompted a number of councilors to leave the party and Sir Keir was forced to hold a crucial meeting last month with a group of Muslim Labor MPs to address his anger at his handling of the crisis – including comments in which he appeared to support cutting off electricity and water in Gaza.

But frontrunner Imran Hussain finally resigned “with a heavy heart” last week, saying he was stepping down from his role as shadow minister so he could “strongly support” the ceasefire.

The Commons showdown came as Israeli forces entered Gaza's al-Shifa hospital, which Israel insists is on top of a military headquarters used by Hamas. Doctors have warned of more civilian casualties, with the encirclement of the hospital by troops in recent days already blamed for the deaths of dozens of patients.