Imran Hussain, a shadow minister, has stepped down from Keir Starmer’s Labour frontbench to actively support a ceasefire in Gaza. In his resignation letter, which he shared on social media, Hussain expressed that he diverged significantly from the party’s position on the ongoing crisis in Gaza. He emphasized the importance of a ceasefire to halt the violence, allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, and ensure the safe return of Israeli hostages. While he appreciated his collaboration with Starmer and his deputy, Angela Rayner, on employment rights, he felt that he could not, in good conscience, advocate for a cessation of hostilities while remaining on the frontbench.
One of the key points of contention was Starmer’s comments during an LBC interview in which he appeared to endorse Israel’s actions in cutting off water and power to Gaza. Although Starmer later clarified his remarks, Hussain believed that the party needed to go further and call for a ceasefire. He condemned Hamas’s attacks and affirmed the right of every country to defend itself but stressed that this should not lead to deliberate violations of international law or war crimes.
Starmer’s position was that a ceasefire in the current conflict would maintain the status quo, and given Hamas’s actions and intentions, it was untenable. However, he did call for humanitarian pauses to allow aid to enter Gaza, and the Labour Party supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
Hussain’s resignation was not an isolated incident, as several Labour members, including the Labour leader of Burnley borough council, 10 other councillors, and around 330 Labour councillors, have urged Starmer to back a ceasefire. Additionally, prominent figures within the party, such as Sadiq Khan, Anas Sarwar, and Andy Burnham, have challenged Starmer’s stance.
Sixteen Labour frontbenchers and a significant portion of the parliamentary party have either called for a ceasefire or supported such calls on social media. The Labour leadership, notably David Lammy, the shadow foreign secretary, has been working to take a tougher stance toward Israel, advocating for an end to the humanitarian crisis and adherence to international law.
This resignation and the ongoing debate within the Labour Party reflect the divisions and discussions surrounding the situation in Gaza and the party’s position on it.