56 of Sir Keir Starmer’s MPs voted in favor of an immediate ceasefire, indicating a significant revolt against his position on the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Shadow ministers Jess Phillips, Afzal Khan, and Yasmin Qureshi were among those who resigned from their positions to support the SNP motion.
Eight shadow ministers and ten other party frontbenchers have resigned over the vote.
Rather, Sir Keir has supported humanitarian breaks in the fighting.
Speaking on her resignation as the shadow minister for domestic abuse, Ms. Phillips stated that she was casting her vote based on “my constituents, my head, and my heart”.
“I can see no route where the current military action does anything but put at risk the hope of peace and security for anyone in the region now and in the future,” she stated.
In the days leading up to the vote, Ms. Phillips, Mr. Khan, Ms. Qureshi, and Paula Barker announced their resignations from their roles as shadow ministers.
Prior to the vote, Sir Keir had made it clear that MPs in such a position would lose their jobs if they supported the cease-fire request.
Following their votes in favor of the motion, front-benchers Sarah Owen, Rachel Hopkins, Naz Shah, and Andy Slaughter have also resigned from their positions. Former parliamentary aides Mary Foy and Dan Carden resigned.
Following the result, Sir Keir expressed remorse for some of his party’s votes in a statement.
“I’m sorry that some coworkers didn’t feel they could back the position tonight. However, I wanted to be quite clear about my position and my future position.”
He said that on October 7, Hamas had carried out “its worst terrorist attack in a single day” against Israel.
“No government would allow the capability and intent to repeat such an attack to go unchallenged,” he said.
The government motion on its intentions for the coming year, which was included in last week’s King’s Speech, was amended by the SNP and put to a vote.
It demanded that “all parties agree to an immediate ceasefire” and that the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” end.
By a vote of 125 to 294 over the Conservatives’ opposition, the 56 rebellious Labour members joined other opposition parties in calling for an end to hostilities.
Although there are 29 Labour MPs in the shadow cabinet, party whips and other frontbench positions account for about half of the party’s 198 MPs.
Stella Creasy, a Labour MP who supported a ceasefire, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that she disobeyed party directives out of principle even though she respected Sir Keir’s stance.
“Nobody is under any illusions that a single vote in the UK parliament is going to change the situation on the ground,” she stated, but “advocating for a ceasefire is far better than the alternative of being silent.”
Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP in Westminster, called it “shameful that a majority of Tory and Labour MPs blocked calls for a ceasefire – and have condoned the continued bombardment of Gaza”.
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators held demonstrations outside Parliament and shouted “ceasefire now” during the voting.
The largest gathering in the UK since the start of the conflict, attended by an estimated 300,000 people over the weekend, was part of a series of protest marches that have been taking place around the country in recent weeks, calling for a ceasefire.
The Labour leader had put up his own amendment outlining the party’s position in an attempt to diffuse the simmering dispute, but it was rejected despite receiving 160 Labour votes.
Following Hamas’s “horrific terrorist attack” on October 7, which claimed 1,200 lives, it backed Israel’s right to self-defense and demanded the release of over 200 hostages.
In response, Israel started hitting Gaza, although it also stated that there had been “far too many deaths of innocent civilians and children” since then.
Since then, more than 11,000 people have died in Gaza, more than 4,500 of them were children, according to the health ministry operated by Hamas.
A longer humanitarian halt to facilitate supplies was also demanded by the amendment, which described it as a “necessary step to an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible”.
Sir Keir has maintained that a ceasefire would be inappropriate since it would give Hamas more confidence and freeze the conflict.
Labour is calling for “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid reach Gaza, as are the Conservative administration, the US, and the EU.
These pauses are usually shorter in duration than a genuine ceasefire—sometimes lasting only a few hours.
They are not intended to provide long-term political solutions; rather, their implementation aims primarily to provide humanitarian relief.
The United States announced last week that Israel would start implementing daily military pauses in parts of northern Gaza for four hours.
Labour’s resolution contained strong condemnation of Israel’s handling of the campaign, an attempt to reduce frontbench resignations.
While the Labour leader’s office is now searching for eight more junior shadow ministers and two parliamentary assistants, they will be relieved that no one seated at the head of the shadow cabinet table broke ranks to support the SNP’s ceasefire resolution.
Although the rebellion went beyond Labour’s left flank, party leaders don’t think other policy areas will see the same level of division.
It is concluded that the Middle East’s passion and pressures are distinct.
According to insiders, Sir Keir remains aligned with the US and EU by advocating for a pause rather than a ceasefire.
However, some of his closest allies are openly aware that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be swayed by a Labour leader’s proposals for a truce, let alone Hamas in Gaza.
Thus, there isn’t much reasoning behind demanding it.
However, this implies that he will have to resist ongoing domestic pressure to resign.