Keir Starmer battling all-out revolt as Labour leader blindsided by frontbench betrayal


Sir Keir Starmer is on a knife edge as the Labour leader is braced for frontbench resignations as the Labour row over its handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict is escalating

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 27/10/2023

- 10:09

Updated: 27/10/2023

- 11:26

One of Starmer's frontbenchers joined a 38-strong revolt from Labour backbenchers over Israel

Sir Keir Starmer is battling a revolt from within his party amid an escalating row over his handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Yesterday, the Labour leader was undermined by his Shadow Minister for the Future of Work, Imran Hussain, who added his signature to an Early Day Motion calling for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

The Bradford East MP joined 38 other Labour MPs who are backing the motion.

He is the first member of the Shadow Cabinet to do so and signifies mounting discontent in the party over Starmer's failure to call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

Instead, Starmer has called for "humanitarian pauses" - but many in the party feel this is not enough, as he is not seen to be doing enough to support besieged civilians in Gaza.

But Starmer - along with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the US and the EU - is maintaining that Israel has a right to defend itself in the wake of Hamas' terror attacks on the region, so long as it acts in line with international law.

Mish Rahman, who sits on Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), also hit out at Starmer - publicly calling for an official inquiry into Islamophobia in the party.

She has also urged the Labour leader to "apologise, retract his comments and stop the gaslighting".

The controversy gained traction after Starmer appeared to support Israel’s decision to limit supplies to Gaza.

Amna Abdullatif - the first Arab Muslim woman elected to Manchester City Council - resigned from the party last week, accusing the Labour leader of making "horrifying comments" about Palestine in an interview with LBC.

The controversial interview saw Starmer say that "Israel has the right" to withhold power and water from Palestinian civilians.

But he added: "Obviously, everything should be done within international law".

Since the interview, a number of senior Labour figures - including Starmer himself - have made it clear they want Israel to act in line with international law, calling for the country to allow humanitarian aid into the war-torn region.

But the crisis is taking its toll on the party, with one Labour MP telling Politico they have received 1,000 emails from constituents.


Keir Starmer

The controversy began after Starmer appeared to support Israel’s decision to limit supplies to Gaza


Another said Starmer's approach to the conflict is "infuriating a lot of people”.

Meanwhile, a shadow minister said: "It’s united MPs on the left, right and centre of the party … There’s no recognition that we are haemorrhaging Muslim votes massively, enough to lose seats if there was an election tomorrow."

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