Keir Starmer has said he fears for his family's safety as Labor MPs reveal they have been the target of death threats over the party's stance on the Gaza conflict.
The Labor leader said there was “intense pressure” on his MPs this week as he spoke of his concerns about protecting his wife and children if he becomes prime minister.
Sir Keir faced a difficult week over his refusal to back a truce, with 56 Labor MPs defying his leadership in the parliamentary vote – including 10 MPs who resigned or were sacked.
The opposition said he was “not put off” by the prospect of entering Downing Street if Labor wins next year's general election, but that “my only concern is my family”.
He said to News Agents podcast: “I was always concerned. I have a woman who has her own life and I have to make sure she can live her life the way she wants to live it.”
“I have two children: I have a 15-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. And my biggest concern – about the only concern I have going forward – is asking myself over and over, especially right now, how do I protect them as we go through this?”
MPs on both sides of the ceasefire debate have faced abuse since Wednesday's Commons vote. Shadow Welsh Secretary Jo Stevens had her constituency office vandalized after abstaining from the Gaza vote.
Her Cardiff office was covered in red paint and posters accusing the shadow minister of having “blood” on her hands.
“I fully support the right to protest, but what happened last night has gone way beyond that,” Ms Stevens said on Friday. “If you have someone writing murder on your door, it's intimidating.”
Naz Shah, who resigned from the front bench to support the ceasefire, said she had been on the receiving end of “Islamophobic hatred” which she has reported to police.
He told Times Radio: “There are still people who are hurt and abused, just because I've been on the other side hasn't stopped me from being abused. If you look at my Twitter, if you look at the emails that I have, I mean, I had to mention one just this afternoon.”
Asked if she had reported the incident to the police, the MP said: “Yes, just this afternoon, literally in the last two hours… Islamophobic hate. It's awful. And that's just one for today.”
He added: “It's painful. It's worrying. It's scary. And it's not a nice place for any member of parliament, for anyone to be on the receiving end of abuse.”
The Labor leader – who backed Rishi Sunak's call for a “humanitarian pause” – had put his MPs on a three-line whip not to vote in favor of an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire. But 56 of his MPs defied the order.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir said Jeremy Corbyn's “days as a Labor MP are over” as he condemned the former leader's repeated refusal to label Hamas a terrorist organization in an interview.
Corbyn repeatedly refused to say whether he believed Hamas was a terrorist group on Piers Morgan's Talk TV program Uncensored this week.
He later told Times Radio: “Of course [7 October] it was a terrorist attack and it was a terrible attack.”
Sir Keir – who served in Mr Corbyn's shadow cabinet – said he was “surprised and shocked” by the left-wing figure's refusal to describe Hamas as a terrorist outfit in the TalkTV interview.
“It confirmed in me why it is so important to me and to this changed Labor Party that Jeremy Corbyn will not be a Labor MP and will not stand for the next Labor election,” he continued. “This is how we have changed as a Labor Party.”
It comes as pro-Palestine protest organizers prepare for a national day of action on Saturday, instead of a major march in central London.
Direct action will take the form of more than 100 smaller rallies in various locations across the UK. Previous weekends have seen thousands of protesters and counter-protesters converge on the capital.