A member of the opposition Labour Party has stepped down from his policy role in protest against his leader’s decision not to demand a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
Labour leader Keir Starmer has so far resisted increasing pressure within his party to advocate for a ceasefire, saying he supports an immediate humanitarian pause to ease the suffering in Gaza.
Imran Hussain, a lawmaker for a constituency in northern England with a large Muslim population, said that while he still supported Starmer’s broader agenda, he wanted to go further on the situation in Gaza.
“I want to be able to strongly advocate for a ceasefire,” Hussain, the party’s spokesman for employment reform, said in a post on Twitter late on Tuesday (7) night.
“In order to be fully free to do so, I have tonight stepped down from Labour’s Frontbench.”
Labour, which polls indicate has a strong chance of forming Britain’s next government in an election expected in 2024, had previously faced complaints of antisemitism within its ranks under former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Starmer has sought to rid the party of its anti-Jewish image since he took over in 2020, and he
has stuck to the same line as prime minister Rishi Sunak on the Middle East conflict, saying that Israel has a right to defend itself against Hamas.
Last week, Starmer said a ceasefire at this stage would leave Hamas with the infrastructure and capability to carry out the sort of attack it launched on October 7 on Israel and that an immediate humanitarian pause was the “only credible approach”.
Hussain will remain an elected lawmaker in the Labour Party, but gives up his role as Shadow Minister for the New Deal for Working People.