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Israel-Palestine war: Labour MP resigns from front bench to call for a ceasefire

A Labour source told Middle East Eye that Imran Hussain resigned from the front bench before the party could fire him for supporting a ceasefire in Gaza
Imran Hussain is the Labour MP for Bradford East, in the north of England (Supplied)

A Labour MP who sits on the front bench as a shadow minister has resigned over the party's refusal to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, amid mounting pressure on Labour leader Keir Starmer to change his stance.

Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East, posted a copy of his resignation letter on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday night. He said he had resigned "with a heavy heart" after sitting on the party's front bench for the past eight years.

"I want to be able to strongly advocate for a ceasefire, as called for by the UN General Secretary," Hussain said in an accompanying post.

"In order to be fully free to do so, I have tonight stepped down from Labour's frontbench." 

A Labour source told Middle East Eye that the party's whips said Hussain would be fired from the front bench for supporting a motion signed by MPs that called for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

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"But instead of getting fired, he chose to resign from his front-bench position last night," according to the source. 

Another source also told ITV News that Hussain had resigned in anticipation of being fired by Starmer's office on Wednesday morning. 

The Labour Party did not respond to requests for comment at the time of writing. 

'A ceasefire is essential to ending the bloodshed, to ensuring that enough aid can pass into Gaza.. and to help ensure the safe return of Israeli hostages'

- Imran Hussein MP 

In his resignation letter, Hussain said an interview given by Starmer to LBC News, in which he appeared to defend Israel's decision to cut off water and electricity to Gaza, had informed his decision to leave the front bench. Starmer has since sought to clarify his comments and called for more aid to be allowed into Gaza. 

"It has become clear that my view on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from the position you have adopted," said Hussain.

"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 Israeli hostages. 

“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.”

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Starmer has refused to support calls for a ceasefire, with Bridget Phillipson, the party's education spokesperson, telling the BBC on Wednesday morning that a ceasefire would not change the status quo and "freeze the conflict in time".

Hussain served as the shadow minister for the New Deal for Working People and was elected to parliament in 2015. 

More than 60 Labour MPs and 250 councillors have broken rank with the party's leadership to call for a ceasefire in Gaza since Israel escalated a bombing campaign and ground assault, following the Hamas attacks in southern Israel on 7 October.

Several senior Labour politicians, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, have also backed calls for a ceasefire.

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