What is Labour’s vote on the Gaza ceasefire and why is it important?

The House of Commons will vote on the King's Speech on Wednesday, which was delivered by His Majesty King Charles III last week and set out the legislative agenda the Conservative government plans to pursue during the current parliamentary session.

MPs have the right to table their own amendments to the program if they feel that certain aspects of it do not adequately address their concerns.

If approved by the Speaker of the House, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, these motions are then debated and voted on by members.

One such amendment to be chosen, proposed by Stephen Flynn of the Scottish National Party (SNP), urges Parliament to “join the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza after the outbreak of heavy fighting in the area after Hamas launched its deadly terror attack on Israel five weeks ago.

Mr Flynn's call for “moral leadership” is unlikely to pass, however, because the conservative majority in parliament is likely to vote against it, preferring to support Israel's right to defend itself in response to the events of October 7.

What makes the vote so interesting is that Sir Keir Starmer's MPs were expressly instructed to refrain from supporting the SNP's case, regardless of their personal feelings, and to support their own party's amendment, which calls for ‘ humanitarian pauses' in the conflict. the provision of aid and the evacuation of civilians, but does not require a complete ceasefire.

Speaking on LBC on Wednesday, shadow cabinet minister Pat McFadden insisted there was “no need” for any Labor MP to support the SNP's amendment.

Mr McFadden says Labour's rival resolution “deals with the three critical aspects of this, which are: how it started on October 7 with the biggest massacre of Jews since the end of World War Two; deals with the current humanitarian situation unfolding in Gaza, calling for pauses in the fighting for more aid for more electricity, water, medicine to help the people there. and, critically, it also deals with the future.

“And by presenting it comprehensively, as Keir Starmer did in his Chatham House speech a few weeks ago, we have given a position that Labor MPs can vote for.

“There is no need for any Labor MP or representative to vote for the position put forward by another political party when we have put our own position forward.”

An attempt to force party unity then, the vote could instead backfire and expose deep internal divisions within Labor over the war, raising the very real prospect of Sir Keir facing open rebellion for his part on Gaza's stance, which some consider too moderate.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn

(PA)

That could mean he is forced to sack members of his shadow cabinet who defy the whip for breaching party discipline, creating a leadership headache he could well face as he attempts to oust Rishi Sunak and become the next prime minister of Britain.

“This is a whip vote and every MP knows what that means,” a party spokesman warned ahead of the ballot.

For his part, Sir Keir argued that a ceasefire would mean “Hamas would be emboldened and immediately start preparing for future violence”, but this stance puts him at odds with Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar , Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury. , Amnesty International and Save the Children, all of whom have called for an immediate end to the bloodshed on humanitarian grounds.

More than 65 Labor MPs – including 18 Labor MPs – have already defied Sir Keir over the issue, almost 50 councilors have quit the party and more than 330 local leaders have urged him to change positions.

It has already been warned that frontbencher Imran Hussain's resignation over the party's refusal to back a ceasefire “will not be the last” and people close to him believe up to 10 Labor frontbenchers could break ranks on Wednesday.

Naz Shah addressing the Commons earlier this month on the need to “end the bloodshed” in Gaza

(PA)

Naz Shah, shadow minister for crime reduction, has already indicated her intention to back the SNP's call for a ceasefire.

“Our values ​​drive us to do better and that is why, despite the risk to our personal positions, we must do what is right,” he said on Wednesday.

“While it may be a matter of convention to follow our closest ally, the US, in the interests of foreign policy, it is a matter of conscience to turn away from our closest ally in the interests of peace.

“We know that eventually there will be a ceasefire in this current crisis, every war ends with a cessation of hostilities. The question is not if there will be a ceasefire, but when.”

The strength of sentiment around the war was already on display in the Commons earlier on Wednesday when a group of protesters chanted “Cease fire now!”. placards interrupted shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper's speech.

Sir Keir could be in for a big night.