Labour ceasefire row: shadow minister Imran Hussain quits frontbench over Sir Keir Starmer's stance on Gaza ceasefire
Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East, has stepped back from his role as shadow minister the New Deal for Working People in order to "strongly advocate" for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Hussain wrote to Starmer to explain his decision, telling the party leader that he was "deeply troubled" by his recent remarks about the issue during an LBC radio interview.
When questioned by presenter Nick Ferrari on the show last month, Starmer appeared to suggest that Israel had the right to withhold water and power from civilians in Gaza in retaliation to the Hamas attack on October 7, saying: “Hamas’ actions are terrorism and Israel has the right to defend herself. Israel has the right to do everything it can to get those hostages back safe and sound. Hamas bears responsibility.”
In his resignation letter, Hussain said: “It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to tender my resignation as Shadow Minister for the New Deal for Working People after eight years on the Labour Party frontbench." He added that he has been "proud" to work with Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner in the role.
He said: "However, over recent weeks, it has become clear that my view on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from the position you have adopted. A ceasefire is essential to ending the bloodshed, to ensuring that enough aid can pass into Gaza and reach those most in need, and to help ensure the safe return of the Israeli hostages."
Hussain said that he could no longer "in all good conscience" continue to serve on Starmer's frontbench while advocating for a ceasefire. He added: “I have unequivocally condemned Hamas’s attacks of 7 October and I firmly agree that every country has the right to defend itself. This however can never become a right to deliberately violate international law on protecting civilians or to commit war crimes."
Starmer's stance on the issue and the lack of call for a ceasefire has caused a huge row within the Labour party, with councillors across the country quitting the party. Shadow ministers , including Jess Phillips and Yasmin Qureshi, have also publicly defied Starmer's stance and shared their own calls for a ceasefire or re-posted other people's sentiments on social media.