Sadiq Khan piles in on Keir Starmer over Israel as Labour tears itself apart

Sadiq Khan piles in on Keir Starmer over Israel as Labour tears itself apart

Sadiq Khan has piled in on Sir Keir Starmer over his stance on Israel, joining dozens of other Labour figures who have called for Starmer to demand a ceasefire

PA/Sadiq Khan
Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 27/10/2023

- 14:10

Updated: 27/10/2023

- 15:36

Three of the most senior Labour figures who are not MPs - Sadiq Khan, Anas Sarwar and Andy Burnham - today came out in support of a ceasefire, further undermining Starmer's authority

Sadiq Khan has piled in on Sir Keir Starmer over his stance on Israel, joining dozens of other Labour figures who have called for Starmer to demand a ceasefire.

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, and Andy Burnham, Labour Mayor for Greater Manchester, also today demanded a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

The three leaders will only add to the pressure piling on Keir Starmer to change his position on the conflict.

Burnham released a joint statement with deputy mayor of Greater Manchester Kate Green and 10 leaders of Manchester councils.

The group said: “We are deeply concerned about events in the Middle East and the anguish being experienced by people in Greater Manchester, most acutely in our Jewish and Muslim communities.

“We recognise that Israel has the right to take targeted action within international law to defend itself against terror attacks and terrorist organisations and to rescue hostages.

“We also have profound concerns about the loss of thousands of lives in Gaza, the displacement of many more and widespread suffering through the ongoing blockade of essential goods and services. It is vital that urgent support and humanitarian aid is allowed into the area.

“Given the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza, the mayor, deputy mayor and 10 leaders of Greater Manchester join the growing international calls for a ceasefire by all sides and for the hostages to be released unharmed.”

Yesterday, Starmer 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.

WATCH: Starmer and Sunak say they stand with Israel

Thousands of innocent civilians have already been killed in Israel and Gaza. With the humanitarian crisis set to deteriorate even further, I’m calling for a ceasefire.

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.


In a video posted to X, Khan said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Israel will "deteriorate even further" if a ceasefire is not called.

He said: "Many Londoners like me have been watching in absolute horror at the death and suffering in Israel and Gaza.
"Londoners family members killed, tortured and taken hostage. Lives changed forever, going through unimaginable trauma.
"The terrible situation in Gaza now looks set to deteriorate even further. Thousands of innocent civilians, men, women and children have already been killed.

"It is becoming impossible for aid to reach the people who desperately need it. Substantial military escalation is now likely, which will only deepen the humanitarian disaster."

He added: "I join the international community in calling for a ceasefire. It will stop the killing and will allow vital aid supplies to reach those who need it in Gaza.

"It would also allow the international community more time to prevent a protracted conflict in the region and further devastating loss of life."

While the London mayor acknowledged that Israel "has a right to defend itself", he warned that "a widespread military escalation will only deepen the humanitarian disaster".

Khan said: "It will increase human suffering on all sides. No nation, including Israel, has the right to break international law.

"There can only ever be a political resolution to achieving peace. It can't simply be the escalation of military conflict and an ongoing cycle of death, pain and destruction."

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.

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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