Keir Starmer poised to wield axe and purge Shadow Cabinet as Labour leader braced for mutiny over Israel

Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer is said to be poised to conduct a purge of his Shadow Cabinet tomorrow if frontbenchers vote for a ceasefire

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 14/11/2023

- 16:10

Updated: 14/11/2023

- 16:51

More than a dozen Labour frontbenchers have broken with Starmer's position and backed a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza

Sir Keir Starmer is poised to conduct a purge of his Shadow Cabinet tomorrow if they break the party line, with insiders saying the Labour leader will sack any frontbenchers who back a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

The SNP last week tabled an amendment to the King's Speech calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war. If selected, a vote will take place tomorrow.

There could be as many as ten frontbenchers backing the amendment.

But a Labour spokesperson told GB News that its MPs will be told not to vote in the SNP's amendment, if selected, saying: "We're not going to be engaging with the party political game playing by the SNP in parliament."

WATCH: Starmer rejects ceasefire over concerns it will embolden Hamas

Asked if MPs and frontbenchers will be sanctioned if they vote for a ceasefire, a Labour source refused to "go into hypotheticals" as ":no amendments have been selected".

It is not yet known whether the Commons speaker will select the amendment.

A total of 19 shadow ministers have publicly backed a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, breaking with Starmer's stance of calling for "humanitarian pauses".

He has warned that calling for a ceasefire would serve to "embolden Hamas".

It is understood the Labour leadership will also table its own amendment in order to promote party unity, but such an amendment would not explicitly call for a ceasefire.

A 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 Chatham House speech saw Starmer dismiss calls for a ceasefire, saying: "I do not believe that is the correct position now, for two reasons.

"One, because a ceasefire always freezes any conflict in the state where it currently lies."

Speaking about the SNP's amendment, a source told the Telegraph: "Support for this motion is not compatible with serving on the front bench.

"There will be absolutely no dilution in the position not to back a ceasefire."

Starmer has faced growing criticism for his refusal to call a ceasefire, instead mirroring the Government's position in calling for "humanitarian pauses" to allow aid and supplies to reach impacted zones, and civilians to escape.

Last week, frontbencher Imran Hussain resigned from his post over the party's position on the conflict.

In a letter to Starmer, posted to X, Hussain wrote: "Yesterday the United Nations Secretary-General warned that Gaza is becoming a ‘graveyard for children'.

“Given the crisis unfolding, I wish to be a strong advocate for a humanitarian ceasefire.

“It is clear that I cannot sufficiently, in all good conscience, do this from the front bench given its current position.”

In his letter, Hussain also said he was "deeply troubled" by comments the Labour leader made on LBC, accusing him of "appearing to endorse actions by the Israeli military".

He added: "Whilst I appreciate your subsequent statements to clarify your comments and the increased emphasis being placed on addressing the desperate situation in Gaza, and whilst we both want to end the bloodshed, I believe the party needs to go further and call for a ceasefire."



Starmer has faced growing criticism for his refusal to call a ceasefire, instead mirroring the Government's position in calling for "humanitarian pauses"


In an interview with LBC last month, Starmer said that "Israel has the right" to withhold power and water from Palestinian civilians.

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

In a statement posted to X in the following days, Starmer called on "all parties to act in line with international law, including allowing humanitarian access of food, water, electricity and medicines to Gaza and ensuring safe humanitarian corridors in Gaza for those fleeing violence".

Labour has been contacted for comment.

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