On Wednesday, the UK Parliament rejected a proposal urging an “immediate” ceasefire in Gaza. The amendment, presented by the Scottish National Party (SNP) as part of the King’s Speech, called on the government to collaborate with the international community in urgently pushing for an immediate cessation of hostilities. Despite 125 Members of Parliament supporting the motion, 293 voted against it. Both the ruling Conservatives and the primary opposition, the Labour Party, leadership were steadfast in their refusal to endorse the motion.
Prior to the vote, the Labour Party introduced its own motion, which was ultimately rejected by the majority of the chamber. This Labour amendment advocated for humanitarian “pauses,” asserting that a cease-fire would impinge on Israel’s “right to self-defence.” Despite the party’s official stance, numerous Labour MPs, including 19 frontbenchers, expressed conflicting opinions on the conflict compared to their leader. Notably, Imran Hussain, a shadow minister, resigned last week to advocate for an immediate cease-fire.
Labour enforced an abstention directive on its MPs regarding the SNP’s motion, leading frontbenchers to either resign or face dismissal for supporting it. Ahead of Wednesday’s vote, prominent figures such as Naz Shah, the opposition’s shadow Home Office minister, and Helen Hayes, the shadow education minister, resigned from their shadow Cabinet positions. The list of resignations also includes Sarah Owen, Rachel Hopkins, Andy Slaughter, Dan Carden, Mary Foy, Paula Barker, and Yasmin Qureshi.
The aftermath of the vote witnessed Labour leader Keir Starmer releasing a statement defending his stance. Despite the dissent within the party, Starmer emphasised the importance of leadership, stating, “I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight. But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand. Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”