Sir Keir Starmer has warned his shadow cabinet that they will be sacked if they vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
Twelve shadow ministers are ready to rebel against Starmer and back an SNP amendment to the King’ Speech that calls on the UK government to “join with the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire”.
That vote is likely to be held on Wednesday (November 15) Starmer is, according to the Independent, set to “stage a showdown vote” in the Commons on the same day with his own motion calling for a humanitarian pause in fighting.
The Labour leader’s motion is critical of Israel’s conduct and will lament the “insufficient aid” getting to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip but falls short of calling for a ceasefire.
However, SNP leader at Westminster Stephen Flynn said parliament must “show moral leadership” and vote for their amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire.
Labour MPs have been ordered not to vote for the SNP amendment with a party spokesperson saying: “We’re not going to be engaging with the party political game-playing by the SNP in parliament.”
The Labour leader has repeatedly insisted that a ceasefire is not right at this moment and his amendment, the spokesperson said, “reaffirms the position” set out Starmer’s Chatham House speech and “reflects our concerns about what we’ve seen on the ground [in Gaza] in the last fortnight.”
The concerns, the spokesperson said, include “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”.
Shadow minister Imran Hussain resigned from his position last week so that he could campaign for an immediate ceasefire. Almost 50 Labour councillors around the country have resigned from the party over the leadership’s stance on calling for a ceasefire, while more than Labour 65 MPs – including 18 members of the shadow cabinet – have publicly defied Starmer and called for a change in the leader’s position.
Commons Speaker Sir Lyndsay Hoyle will decide what amendment MPs will vote for on Wednesday.
A Labour MP described a meeting of the parliamentary party on Monday as “a bin fire” with pro-ceasefire MPs and Lords launching a separate campaign on Tuesday, led by Mish Raman, a member of the party’s national executive committee.
“We have seen leaders, who claim to represent us, rule out the commitment to a ceasefire which would put an end to the terrible violence, open up the opportunity for talks and a move towards a peaceful solution,” Rahman said.
“How many more children must die before our party advocates for peace? It is time for change. It is time to end mealy mouthed politics. It is time for political triangulation to change. It is now that there is time for honesty – we need a politics of peace.”