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Labour Frontbenchers To Face Sack If They Vote For Gaza Ceasefire

Labour frontbenchers who vote for a ceasefire on Wednesday could be sacked. (Alamy)

4 min read

Labour frontbenchers may be sacked if they vote for the Scottish National Party's (SNP) amendment to the King's Speech calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, PoliticsHome understands.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has ordered his MPs not to participate in a vote on the SNPs amendment on Wednesday if it is selected by House of Commons Speaker - and instead will use its own amendment to give MPs a vote on the crisis in Gaza. 

It comes after a Labour source close to the issue told PoliticsHome on Tuesday morning Starmer was preparing to sack frontbenchers who vote with the SNP's calls for a ceasefire.

The SNPs amendment included the wording the government will "join with the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire". 

Labour's current position on the conflict between Israel and Hamas is to call for a "humanitarian pause" rather than a full ceasefire, the same position as the UK government and the United States. 

However, a growing number of frontbenchers so far have called publicly for a ceasefire, including shadow justice minister Afzal Khan, shadow domestic violence minister Jess Phillips, and opposition whip Kim Leadbeater. 

And Imran Hussain became the first shadow minister to resign from the frontbench this week in order to advocate more freely for the position. 

"Given the crisis unfolding, I wish to be a strong advocate for the humanitarian ceasefire advocated by the UN General Secretary, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN humanitarian bodies, by numerous governments, and by leading humanitarian organisations like Oxfam, Save the Children and Amnesty International," Hussain said in the statement. 

"It is clear that I cannot sufficiently, in all good conscience, do this from the frontbench given its current position."

The decision to fire frontbenchers who vote for a ceasefire comes after Labour spent the weekend deciding on how it will approach the vote if the SNPs amendment to the King's Speech is selected. 

In a Labour whips script seen by PoliticsHome last week, Labour MPs were told supporting the SNPs motion would "undermine the Labour party in Scotland and isn't in line with our party position". They were also told the party believes it "shouldn't make Wednesday about the Labour party". 

"We will therefore not be supporting the SN motion. Will we be voting against?" the script read. 

"A final decision on the position hasn't been made, but we are seeking to find a route through for everyone. We don't usually vote on SN motions."

More than 11,000 people in Gaza have been killed in the war between Israel and Hamas which began after Hamas killed more than 1,200 people in a terror attack in southern Israel - with international pressure for a ceasefire growing as the humantarian crisis in Gaza deepens. 

On Tuesday, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy reiterated Labour's calls for the ramping up of humanitarian aid into Gaza, but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire. 

“Gazans need aid now," said Lammy in the House of Commons on Tuesday to heckles of other MPs calling for a ceasefire. 

"They need medicines - now. They need water - now. They need food - now. They need fuel - now.

"A full comprehensive and immediate humanitarian pause in fighting across the whole of Gaza - now: to alleviate Palestinian suffering and for Hamas terrorists to release the hostages.”

A Labour spokesperson has confirmed that the party will use its amendment to the King's Speech to give MPs a vote on the crisis in the Middle East.

The spokesperson said: "Labour's amendment reaffirms the position set out in Keir Starmer's Chatham House speech and reflects our concerns about what we've seen on the ground in the last fortnight which includes the lack of hostage release, the insufficient amount of aid and utilities getting in and being distributed, the scale of civilian casualties in Gaza and the amount of violence on the West Bank."

The Labour spokesperson also confirmed that its MPs will not be taking part in the SNP vote if their amendment is selected.

"We're not going to be engaging with the party political game playing by the SNP in parliament.“

This post has been updated to reflect that Labour formally announced its position on the Gaza votes since it was published.

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