Paul Bristow: Tory MP sacked from government job for urging Rishi Sunak to back ceasefire in Israel and Gaza
Paul Bristow, a ministerial aide at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, wrote to Rishi Sunak saying that Palestinians "should not suffer collective punishment".
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The ministerial aide at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology wrote to the Prime Minister last week saying this would save lives. The Telegraph reported the Peterborough MP wrote: "A permanent ceasefire would save lives and allow for a continued column of humanitarian aid [to] reach the people who need it the most."
Bristow also wrote on his Facebook page: "Ordinary Palestinians are not Hamas. I struggle to see how Israel is any safer following thousands of deaths of innocent Palestinians. They should not suffer collective punishment for the crimes of Hamas.” He wrote that he is “deeply briefed by the heart-breaking and devastating humanitarian crisis” unfolding in Gaza, having spoken with constituents and meeting with the Peterborough Joint Mosques Council.
The Middle East was plunged into war on 7 October, when Hamas crossed the border from Gaza to Israel and murdered around 1,500 men, women and children. The group is still holding around 200 hostages in Gaza, while Israel is attacking the strip from air and by land. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cut off electricity and fuel to Gaza, with only limited amounts of aid getting in. The Gaza Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, says that 8,000 Palestinians have now died in the conflict.
The government's policy has been that any ceasefire would help Hamas, and the Prime Minister has repeatedly said Israel has the "right to defend itself". As such, Downing Street said that the Bristow was been asked to leave his job as a parliamentary private secretary for breaking rank.
A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Paul Bristow has been asked to leave his post in Government following comments that were not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility.”
This is in contrast to Labour, with Sir Keir Starmer allowing members of his front bench to express their opposition. So far the Labour leader has ruled out calling for a ceasefire, despite pressure from across his party.
On Saturday, a host of frontbench Labour MPs broke ranks with the leadership to voice their support for a ceasefire, either with express endorsements or by sharing a call from the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East (LFPME).
Bradford West MP Naz Shah, the shadow minister for crime reduction, tweeted: “What we are seeing is not defence, it is disproportionate attacks on a civilian population. I continue to call for a ceasefire to stop the killings of innocent civilians. We cannot be silent.”
While Paula Barker, Liverpool Wavertree MP and shadow minister for devolution, backed LFPME’s post on X, formerly Twitter, calling for an “immediate ceasefire by all parties”, along with the “unconditional release of all hostages brutally taken by Hamas” and “unfettered humanitarian access” to Gaza. Barker shared the post, saying: “I fully support these calls.”
On top of this, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar have all called for a ceasefire. A Labour source told NationalWorld that members of the front bench would continue to be allowed to express their views without getting sacked.