Keir Starmer loses eight frontbenchers in major rebellion over Gaza ceasefire

Overall, 56 Labour MPs voted in favour of a ceasefire.

Keir Starmer

Eight frontbenchers quit the Labour Party last night, in a major blow to Labour leader Keir Starmer over the party’s stance on a ceasefire in Gaza.

The major rebellion occurred as more than a quarter of Labour’s MPs defied Starmer to support an immediate cessation in the fighting. Among the most high profile names choosing to defy the Labour leadership was Jess Phillips, who joined colleagues including Yasmin Qureshi, Afzal Khan and Paula Barker in quitting on Wednesday evening after deciding to support the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech backing a ceasefire.

Four other frontbenchers: Rachel Hopkins, Sarah Owen, Naz Shah and Andy Slaughter, have also left the front bench after breaking the party whip to back the amendment. Mary Foy, Angela Rayner’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS), and Dan Carden, another PPS, have also left the frontbench.

Overall, 56 Labour MPs voted in favour of a ceasefire.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said that he regretted that party colleagues had not backed his position.

He said: “Alongside leaders around the world, I have called throughout for adherence to international law, for humanitarian pauses to allow access for aid, food, water, utilities and medicine, and have expressed our concerns at the scale of civilian casualties.”

He added: “Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”

Phillips said that she was quitting with a ‘heavy heart’, in what had been one of the ‘toughest weeks’ in politics since she entered Parliament.

She said: “I have tried to do everything that I could to make it so that this was not the outcome, but it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my post in the shadow Home Office team.

“On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart which has felt as if it were breaking over the last four weeks with the horror of the situation in Israel and Palestine.

“I can see no route where the current military action does anything but put at risk the hope of peace and security for anyone in the region now and in the future.”

Speaking about her reasons for supporting a ceasefire in the Commons before the vote, Labour’s Naz Shah said: “For the people of Palestine, every minute, every hour, every day we wait, is another orphan, another grieving mother and another family wiped out. This is why I’m standing to save innocent lives, of both Palestinians and Israelis”.

MPs voted 293 to 125, a majority of 168, to reject the SNP’s amendment.

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