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Keir Starmer faces Gaza meltdown in vote today after government moved to block his fudge amendment – leaving MPs to choose between obeying leader or backing SNP call for ‘immediate ceasefire’


Keir Starmer is facing a fresh Gaza meltdown today after it emerged his efforts to paper over bitter divisions might be thwarted.  

The Labour leader had tried to prevent his MPs from backing an SNP motion demanding an ‘immediate ceasefire’ by tabling his own amendment, caveating that Hamas must hand back hostages and lay down weapons.

However, that tactic could fail as the government has now put down its own change to the motion – with Speaker Lindsay Hoyle only likely to choose one version to put to a vote this afternoon. 

As a result Sir Keir might see his MPs join the SNP in the division lobbies even if he orders them to abstain, as many have been vocal in urging an immediate ceasefire.

In a round of interviews this morning, shadow cabinet member Lisa Nandy said Labour was making representations to Sir Lindsay about what amendments would be selected. As it is an Opposition Day debate, the government will simply be able to ignore the result.

Ms Nandy stressed that there are ‘significant differences’ between Labour’s wording and the SNP’s. 

‘We are clear that any ceasefire by definition must be two-sided, that Israel can’t be expected to lay down its weapons if Hamas doesn’t observe the terms of that ceasefire,’ she said. 

Sir Keir Starmer’s party had appeared to quell a potential backbench rebellion by laying down an amendment calling for an ‘immediate humanitarian ceasefire’ ahead of a vote on a similar SNP motion

But the Government last night tabled their own amendment, which only goes as far as to call for an 'immediate humanitarian pause' followed by a 'permanent sustainable ceasefire'. Pictured: Gaza City

But the Government last night tabled their own amendment, which only goes as far as to call for an ‘immediate humanitarian pause’ followed by a ‘permanent sustainable ceasefire’. Pictured: Gaza City

There is no limit to how many amendments can be selected by the Speaker, but typically he would only choose one to put to a vote.

The Government’s text only calls for an ‘immediate humanitarian pause’ followed by a ‘permanent sustainable ceasefire’. 

In November, 56 Labour MPs defied Sir Keir to vote for the SNP’s previous call for a ceasefire, with 10 frontbenchers quitting.

Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said yesterday that Labour had shifted its position because the situation in Gaza had ‘evolved’. 

A party spokesman said: ‘Our amendment calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, in line with our allies. 

‘We need the hostages released and returned. We need the fighting to stop now. We need a massive humanitarian aid programme for Gaza.

‘And any military action in Rafah cannot go ahead.’

The SNP has boasted that it ‘inserted a backbone’ in Labour with its device of an Opposition Day motion.

The party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn said: ‘I welcome this long-overdue U-turn from Sir Keir Starmer who now appears to support the SNP’s call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

‘However, the plain truth is Sir Keir was forced into this position through public pressure and, in particular, by the SNP.

‘It’s telling that it took the SNP to insert a backbone into the Labour Party and act as Westminster’s conscience on this conflict.

‘Questions will naturally arise as to why it’s taken Sir Keir so long to change his mind, what his long months of prevarication achieved, and whether he will reinstate the MPs he sacked in November for supporting the same position he finally holds too.

‘Since Westminster rejected a ceasefire in November, more than 29,000 Palestinian children, women and men have been killed. It’s vital MPs don’t make the same mistake again.’

There was also a mixed response from Labour MPs to the attempt to overwrite the SNP motion.

‘Some MPs are still annoyed about the wording of the amendment, even though it calls for an immediate ceasefire,’ one source said. ‘But they’ll vote for all of it – it’s the best we’re going to get.’

Mish Rahman, who sits on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party, said the motion was equivalent to ‘playing politics with people’s lives’.

He added: ‘The SNP motion is significantly stronger than Labour’s mealy-mouthed watered-down version which ignores Israel‘s collective punishment of Palestinians. Starmer is trying to have his cake and eat it too.’

Last night the SNP accused Labour of only doing the right thing after months of internal pressure. Pictured: A photo taken from southern Israel along the border with the Gaza strip

Last night the SNP accused Labour of only doing the right thing after months of internal pressure. Pictured: A photo taken from southern Israel along the border with the Gaza strip

While the wording of the amendment is slightly different from the SNP's original proposal ¿ it does not accuse Israel of 'the collective punishment of the Palestinian people' ¿ the move represents a significant shift in Labour's position. Pictured: David Lammy

While the wording of the amendment is slightly different from the SNP’s original proposal – it does not accuse Israel of ‘the collective punishment of the Palestinian people’ – the move represents a significant shift in Labour’s position. Pictured: David Lammy



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