UK's Labour loses Norwich council after Gaza defections
The defection of four Labour councillors in Norwich has seen the UK's main opposition party lose control of the city's council amid a wave of protests over the party's stance on the war in Gaza.
Four city and one county councillors in Norwich, eastern England, quit over the direction of the UK's main opposition party, which has shifted to the centre ground under the leadership of Keir Starmer.
While there was no mention of any specific factors that led to the resignations of the local politicians, it follows a wave of defections by Labour councillors across the UK over the party's refusal to back a ceasefire in Gaza.
All but one of this week's defections represent the Town Close ward of Norwich, with the group issuing a statement regarding their resignations.
"After long and careful consideration we have made the heartbreaking decision to leave the Labour Party and become independent councillors," the group said in a statement, according to the BBC.
"There are many reasons, but in essence we no longer consider the current national and local Labour Party matches the overriding principles that guide our work as Town Close councillors."
Starmer has been criticised by Labour members over his handling of the Gaza war, with a party whip ordering MPs to abstain or vote against the motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Despite this, 56 MPs defied the whip and voted for the SNP-sponsored motion, including members of Starmer's frontbench such as Afzal Khan and Jess Phillips.
Labour has seen dozens of councillors resign from the party, leading to the party losing control of Oxford and Burnley councils.
It follows mass protests in London and other UK cities calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, where nearly 15,000 people have been killed in a brutal Israeli military offensive.
Despite this, Labour appears on track to win the next election, with Keir Starmer's party enjoying a 20-point lead in most opinion polls.
Most of the councillors now work as independents although there is talk of the Green Party attracting some former Labour politicians.
Some pro-Palestine activists have started the 'Never Forget Gaza' party, in a bid to unseat Labour MPs who abstained from the ceasefire vote.