UK: Labour could back SNP on Gaza ceasefire vote, following Starmer U-turn

UK: Labour could back SNP on Gaza ceasefire vote, following Starmer U-turn
Labour has been under fire for its stance on the Gaza War, including a refusal to back an immediate ceasefire.
2 min read
19 February, 2024
Starmer has been under fire for his stance on the Gaza war [Getty]

UK Labour could back a Scottish National Party (SNP)-sponsored motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, following months of pressure from members and the public on its stance on the war.

Labour officials were reportedly looking to reword the SNP motion, due to be tabled at parliament on Wednesday, to bat off criticism of its policy on the Gaza war, which was widely considered to be unequivocally supportive of Israel.

In November, Labour backed the Conservative government in strongly opposing an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with three shadow ministers stepping down after supporting the truce call.

Since then, around 18,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza with the humanitarian situation on the verge of collapse.

Leader Keir Starmer was strongly criticised by party members for his opposition to ceasefire calls and previous comments where he appeared to back Israel's blockade on Gaza.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has now written an open letter calling for the opposition to back the ceasefire motion after 56 Labour MPs defied the party whip in November causing deep divisions within Labour.

"For more than four months, the UK has followed the strategy of equivocation supported by Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer," Flynn’s letter reads.

"The devastation shows it hasn’t worked. The time for equivocation is over."

In an attempt to avoid another embarrassing rebellion by Labour MPs, the party might support the SNP vote with a rewording of the motion, according to The Guardian.

Scottish Labour on Saturday backed an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, while leader Anas Sarwar was optimistic about the SNP motion.

"It looks like a pretty decent motion. If we can send a unified message from the UK parliament then we should take that opportunity and I hope people will engage in good faith in trying to find that unified position," he said.

"In the end, that is more important than two political parties having a go at each other when in actual fact what matters is the people living in Israel and Palestine who are fearing for their lives."

Starmer on the weekend signalled that Labour might back the ceasefire vote.

"We’ll have to look at the precise wording. But I’m very clear that we all want a ceasefire. The question therefore is how do we get there?” he told reporters.

Labour is reportedly working on "damage control" to win back Muslim voters, after the party emphasised Israel's "right to self-defence" despite the horrific death toll in Gaza, with over 29,000, mostly women and children, killed since 7 October.