A Conservative MP who controversially employed a former councillor suspended from the Labour Party for alleged antisemitism, has been fired from his junior government post for urging the prime minister to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Paul Bristow, the MP for Peterborough, wrote to Rishi Sunak last week saying there should be a “permanent break” in hostilities, and asked him what steps the government was taking “to ensure that people in Gaza do not face collective punishment for the crimes of Hamas".
A ceasefire, Bristow said, would “save lives” and allow humanitarian aid “to reach those who need it the most”.
Bristow acknowledged that “the brutal Hamas attacks against civilians are unforgivable" but said it was "challenging to understand how the present strategy of bombing Gaza will lead to the release of hostages”.
Downing Street confirmed today that Bristow had been sacked from his post as a parliamentary private secretary in the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology. According to a spokesman, his comments were “not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility”.
The JC revealed in September that Bristow had employed former councillor Ansar Ali, who was suspended from Labour in 2021 after saying he was “boycotting the biased BBC” because it “didn’t want to upset the Zionist lobby”. He was reinstated the following year but eventually resigned from the party and joined the Tories.
Ali had also shared posts referring to “Nazi Zionists”, and asking how many MPs were “working for Israel”. He posted a claim that a Nazi-era medal, struck for propaganda purposes, with a Star of David on one side and a swastika on the other, was evidence of “Nazi-Zionist collaboration”.
When this was pointed out to Bristow, he apologised for what he described as a failure to “do due diligence”. However, he said he would continue to employ Ali as a caseworker and translator in his constituency office because he regretted his previous actions and wanted to apologise.
Ali told the JC at the time: “In the past I have commented and shared social media posts that I now fully understand would have caused hurt and distress to members of the Jewish faith. This was wrong, and I deeply regret any hurt I have caused to the Jewish community and others.”
Bristow, whose constituency’s electorate is 12 per cent Muslim, is also chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Muslims.
His sacking comes as Home Secretary Suella Braverman reiterated the government’s pledge to review existing laws on hate speech, following another weekend of protest marches featuring chants that call for the destruction of Israel.
Speaking on Sky News, Braverman said she did not wish to intrude on the operational independence of the police and Crown Prosecution Service.
Bristow said: “I completely understand the PM’s decision. And it is with regret I leave a job I enjoyed. But I can now talk openly about an issue so many of my constituents care deeply about. I believe I can do this better from the backbenches rather than as part of the Government payroll.”