Rishi Sunak facing calls to identify and fire Tory minister who said peace in Gaza could harm election chances

Rishi Sunak facing calls to identify and fire Tory minister who said peace in Gaza could harm election chances
A Tory minister has said peace in Gaza, where over 30,000 people have been killed by Israel, would harm the party's chances of election victory.
3 min read
16 March, 2024
Sunak has come under fire to find and sack the minister who called for the continuation of the war on Gaza [Getty]

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is facing calls to identify and dismiss a minister who told Sky News that peace in Gaza could harm the Conservative Party's chances in upcoming elections.

This week, an unnamed Tory minister expressed concerns to Sky News’s Deputy Political Editor, Sam Coates, that they were “worried there might be peace in the Middle East” because the conflict is seen to be negatively affecting the Labour Party’s relationship with its voters.

The minister's comments appeared to suggest Palestinian life is worth less than electoral victory and were made in the context of the debate within the Tory Party as to when Sunak should hold an election.

“You hear extraordinary claims from Tory MPs, including this one from a minister, who said to me that they are worried there might be peace in the Middle East,” Coates said of the comment. 

“That might help Labour, because people are suffering in Gaza and that’s severing the relation between their traditional Muslim votes and the party,” he added.

Responding to the unnamed minister’s comments, Scottish National Party foreign affairs spokesperson, Brendan O'Hara MP, said: “The UK government has repeatedly blocked SNP calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel - and now it seems Tory ministers actively want to prevent a ceasefire in case it harms their electoral chances”.

“People in Scotland will be disgusted by these comments, which show the values of Westminster couldn't be further removed from Scotland - where the overwhelming majority want an immediate ceasefire now,” he continued, as quoted by Sky News.

“30,000 children, women and men have been killed in Palestine and Tory ministers are more concerned about their electoral chances than securing peace. It's shameful.”

“Rishi Sunak must launch an investigation to identify and sack the minister responsible for these comments - and he must end his opposition to calling for an immediate ceasefire,” O’Hara added.

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The Conservatives are far behind Labour in the polls heading into the next election, with the gulf between the two parties reaching as high as 20% this month.

However, Israel’s war on Gaza has become one of the main point of disputes that could potentially derail Labour’s chances of winning the next election.

Many voters, particularly Muslims and younger people, view Labour leader Keir Starmer’s response to Israel's assault on Gaza as weak or acquiescent. The party resisted endorsing an 'immediate' ceasefire for months, ultimately choosing to back a diluted version of the SNP's motion that accused Israel of collective punishment in the Palestinian enclave.

A Survation poll from February showed that only 60 percent of Muslims who backed Labour in 2019 will support them at the next general election.

Labour’s failure to grasp Muslim perspectives on Gaza saw them lose the previously safe seat of Rochdale at the end of last month, with George Galloway exploiting this to secure victory.