Sir Keir Starmer fears for family’s safety after Labour MPs targeted with abuse

MPs who refused to back an SNP amendment to the King's Speech backing a ceasefire in Gaza have also received death threats


MARSTON MORETAINE, BEDFORDSHIRE - OCTOBER 20: Labour Party leader Keir Starmer speaks to media after congratulating newly elected Labour MP for Mid Bedfordshire Alistair Strathern on October 20, 2023 in Marston Moretaine, Bedfordshire. Labour candidate Alistair Strathern overturns Tory majority to win the seat vacated by former Conservative culture secretary Nadine Dorries. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Sir Keir Starmer has said he fears for his family’s safety as MPs are targeted with threats over the Israel-Hamas war. 

The Labour leader said his “biggest concern” was how to protect his wife and children amid divisions in the party over the war in Gaza.

The Labour leadership abstained on a Commons vote on Wednesday to call for a ceasefire in Gaza but Sir Keir suffered the biggest rebellion of his leadership as 56 of his MPs, including 10 shadow ministers and parliamentary aides, defied the party whip to vote in favour.

The Labour leadership has instead called for longer "humanitarian pauses" and for Israel to "protect hospitals" and end the "siege" on water, food and other essentials into Gaza.

Those who refused to back an SNP amendment this week that called for a ceasefire have been subject to threats.

Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens had her constituency office vandalised after abstaining on the Gaza vote, while Naz Shah, who quit the front bench to support a ceasefire, said she has received "Islamophobic hatred".

Speaking to Times Radio, Shah said: “I think it’s absolutely appalling that any MP received those kind of threats, it really has to stop, and I really hope that the people who are the perpetrators of this feel the full force of the law.”

Popular and Limehouse MP Apsana Begum, who has backed a ceasefire, said she was receiving “Islamophobic abuse and death threats”.

Protesters also assembled outside Keir Starmer's parliamentary office and chanted "Keir Starmer's a wasteman" and "What do we want? A ceasefire. When do we want it? Now."

Speaking to the News Agents podcast, Starmer said: “About the only concern I have going forward is, asking myself over and over again, particularly at the moment, how do I protect them [his family] as we go into this?”

He added: “There’s been intense pressure, I think on lots of us, in the last few weeks. These were discussions I was having with colleagues on Wednesday, because in addition to the emotional turmoil that those people are going through — some of them rebelled, but they’re good people trying to deal with a very difficult situation — on top of all that, many of them have been subjected to terrible abuse.”

Asked on Sky News's Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme about protests outside MPs' offices, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: "I believe in the right to protest, I don't believe in the right to intimidate.

"Some of those protests, I believe, over the last few days have crossed the line from protest to intimidation. I think it's totally unacceptable.

"In a democracy we elect our MPs and they make decisions. They represent their constituents but they also listen to all of the evidence. Anything that would attempt to intimidate an MP to vote in a certain way or to put pressure on them - it is anti-democratic in my view."

Ms Reeves added: "I would urge those people who are conducting those protests: I understand why you call for a ceasefire but do things in a responsible way and don't intimidate or put pressure in that way on elected representatives, or anyone else for that matter."

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