Angela Rayner wades into Keir Starmer ceasefire row
Angela Rayner wades into Keir Starmer ceasefire row – saying she ‘understands’ why her colleagues have resigned over the issue
- The deputy leader has defended the party’s stance over a ceasefire in Gaza
- It comes after Shadow Minister Imran Hussein resigned over the issue this week
Angela Rayner has intervened in the Labour row over a ceasefire in Gaza, saying she ‘understands’ why her colleagues have resigned over the issue.
The deputy leader said that she got why fellow frontbenchers felt that ‘we need to immediately get this situation under control’ – but defended the Party’s position.
Earlier this week shadow minister Imran Hussein resigned over the Party’s stance. Several other frontbenchers are said to be on resignation watch.
Sir Keir Starmer is under pressure over his refusal to back a ceasefire in Gaza.
The Labour leader has so far aligned his Party with the Government in calling for humanitarian ‘pauses’.
Party unity may be tested to breaking point next week if a vote is called on whether to back a ceasefire, with reports that Sir Keir may be forced to allow frontbenchers to abstain.
Yesterday, Ms Rayner waded into the row, saying she understood why Mr Hussein had felt the need to quit – but defended Sir Keir’s approach.
The deputy leader said that she got why fellow frontbenchers felt that ‘we need to immediately get this situation under control’ – but defended the Party’s position
She said of Gaza: ‘I understand colleagues who are saying we need to immediately get this situation under control.’
In an interview with the i, she said that she supported calls for a ‘humanitarian pause to stop the violence, the bombs, and to get aid to the people that need it most’.
Ms Rayner described the situation in Gaza as ‘absolutely devastating’ and said she hasn’t ‘had a day’ when she hasn’t ‘been thinking about it’. ‘It has to stop,’ she said. ‘We have to find a way to get peace, we’ve got to get those hostages out… we’ve got to get peace in that region.
‘And Keir is doing his utmost to try and get – with international partners – this humanitarian aid into Gaza.’
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves also said that she ‘understood’ why her colleagues would back a ceasefire – but called for party unity yesterday.
She said she was sorry that Mr Hussein had resigned but said that humanitarian pauses were the right position for the Party.
‘I’m really sorry to see good colleagues like Imran Hussain feel like they have to leave the frontbench,’ she said. ‘And I understand why they are calling for a ceasefire but in the end I think that the most realistic and the quickest way to get the support we need for the people in Gaza is through the humanitarian pauses backed by other G7 leaders and backed by the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer.
‘I hope we can have unity in the Labour Party and people can stick together but I also do recognise the strength of feeling about these issues.
‘We all want to see an end to that bloodshed, and whether that is through humanitarian pauses or ceasefires our objective is the same, to avoid the loss of innocent civilian life.’
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves also said that she ‘understood’ why her colleagues would back a ceasefire – but called for party unity yesterday
Ms Rayner described the situation in Gaza as ‘absolutely devastating’ and said she hasn’t ‘had a day’ when she hasn’t ‘been thinking about it’
Sir Keir will come under fresh pressure to prevent party splits if an amendment to back a ceasefire is selected on Wednesday.
Frontbenchers will be torn between keeping their shadow ministerial roles and trying to save their seats after coming under pressure from pro-Palestine constituents.
Scores of Labour MPs have gone against Sir Keir’s position, while around 50 councillors have quit the party in response. MPs with significant Muslim populations in their constituencies are deeply concerned that they could lose their seats if support is withheld.
Should Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle select a Scottish National Party (SNP) amendment to the King’s Speech which calls for a ceasefire, many Labour MPs on the Left of the party are likely to back it.
But Sir Keir is said to be considering giving shadow ministers a way out of the dilemma by allowing them to abstain.
Any breach of collective responsibility by members of his team is sackable, but the leader has so far chosen not to enforce it.
On Wednesday, Mr Hussain said has was resigning from his position on the frontbench with a ‘heavy heart’ because he wants to advocate for a ceasefire after he was told he would be sacked.
The SNP amendment calls on the UK Government to ‘join with the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire’.
Earlier this week, Sir Keir said that the split in his party over the calling of a ceasefire was ‘not a usual political divide’.
‘There is a division on whether we should call for a humanitarian pause, which is my position as I’ve set out very, very clearly, and some who think we should have a ceasefire, which again I’ve rejected very clearly.
‘But this is not a usual political divide because what people are yearning for is a reduction of the terrible events that we’re seeing, the innocent deaths we’re seeing in Gaza, and that’s why a humanitarian pause is so important.’
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