Keir Starmer showing 'resolute and determined leadership' by standing up for Israel

Lord Austin praised the Labour leader amid a growing revolt over his Israel policy by frontbenchers


Sir Keir Starmer is showing “resolute and determined leadership” in supporting Israel after a frontbencher quit over the Labour leader's position on the Jewish state, a former Labour MP has said.

Imran Hussain, who served as shadow minister for the new deal for working people, resigned in protest at the Labour leader’s refusal to back a ceasefire in Gaza.

In a statement, Hussain said: "It has become clear that my view on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from the position you have adopted."

In a letter to Sir Keir Starmer on Wednesday, the Bradford East MP said he was "deeply troubled" by the Labour leader's recent interview on LBC in which he appeared to suggest that the Israeli government had a right to withhold water and power from citizens in Gaza. 

The Labour MP added: "It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to tender my resignation as shadow minister for the New Deal for Working People after eight years on the Labour Party frontbench."

He said he had been "proud" to work alongside Sir Keir and his deputy, Angela Rayner, in developing a plan for employment rights but could not "in all good conscience" push for a cessation of the conflict while remaining on the frontbench.

But crossbench peer and former Labour MP Lord Austin, told the JC: “ Keir Starmer has shown resolute and determined leadership in supporting Israel and the way it must defend itself by dealing with the Hamas terrorists responsible for the barbaric attacks on October 7th. 

“He has shown the strength to stand up for what is right despite pressure from some in his party and must be supported and encouraged to stand up for Israel.”

Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said that Hussain had "reached his own decision" on the matter. 

She maintained that the party leadership did not see a ceasefire as the right move amid the escalating conflict, adding to Times Radio on Wednesday: “The difficulty with calls for a ceasefire is that it risks freezing the conflict in time, and also allowing Hamas to regroup and perpetrate further atrocities which they said, given the chance, they would absolutely do time and again."

She continued: "I would urge colleagues to always carefully choose their words where it comes to fast-moving international events, and where it isn't always clear or apparent very quickly what is happening on the ground."

Meanwhile, suspended ex-Labour MP Diane Abbott said she stood in "solidarity" with Hussain after his resignation. 

Abbott said: "There is a huge swell of feeling about this issue in the Labour party and beyond. These principled resignations reflect that. Solidarity Imran."

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Labour fully understands calls for a ceasefire. Everybody wants to see an end to the shocking images we are seeing in Gaza. We need to see all hostages released and aid getting to those most in need.

"But a ceasefire now will only freeze this conflict and would leave hostages in Gaza and Hamas with the infrastructure and capability to carry out the sort of attack we saw on October 7.

"International law must be followed at all times and innocent civilians must be protected. Labour is calling for humanitarian pauses in the fighting.

"This is the best and most realistic way to address the humanitarian emergency in Gaza and is a position shared by our major allies."

Hussain has been on Labour's frontbench for almost eight years, serving under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership as shadow international development minister in 2016.

Sir Keir’s remarks on LBC have so far caused 30 councillors from various local authorities in England to resign from the party. Labour have also lost control of Oxford City Council after eight representatives resigned. 

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