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Home ยป Council Leader And 10 Councillors Quit Labour Party Over Starmer’s Gaza Ceasefire Stance

Council Leader And 10 Councillors Quit Labour Party Over Starmer’s Gaza Ceasefire Stance

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The leader of Burnley Council and 10 other councillors have resigned from the Labour Party this evening over Sir Keir Starmer’s decision not to push for a ceasefire in Gaza, Sky News understands.

Afrasiab Anwar, who has been in the party for 10 years, was among those calling for the leader to step down on Thursday.

In a statement, they said: “It has become apparent that Keir Starmer and the leadership either cannot or will not heed our concerns or acknowledge the sentiments within our communities.”

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It added: “In response to our calls for him to resign he responded that the individual concerns of members are not his focus, further illustrating that he does not value the voice of the grassroots of the party.”

On Thursday, Mr Anwar said: “I and colleagues across Burnley over the last few weeks have seen the sad loss of people including young children in Palestine and Israel and this has to stop immediately.

“I joined the Labour Party because of the values of standing up and speaking out against injustices across the world. Sadly, Keir Starmer has not stood up for Labour values, hence why we are calling upon him to step down.

“Blindly following the position of Mr Sunak is not acceptable to us and our residents who we represent.”

The leader of Pendle Council, which is also in Lancashire, also called on Sir Keir to resign on Thursday.

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Resignations pile pressure on Starmer

The pressure is really piling on Sir Keir Starmer. This latest set of resignations means Labour has lost at least 50 councillors over the party’s position on Palestine.

Losing overall control of Oxford and Burnley councils and the repeated refusal by Sir Keir to back a ceasefire has created immense discontent and division within the party.

What’s most worrying for the leader and the party, who remain ahead in the polls, is the frustration and anger within his front bench.

At least 10 members of his cabinet are unhappy with their boss’s position on the conflict in the Middle East and it will only take one of them to call for a ceasefire for them all to follow.

Alternatively, it would take just one of them to stand down from their post for the others to do the same.

If that happens, there will be questions about not only whether he’s to blame for creating the division, but also whether he should remain in post into the next general election.

It came after calls from senior Labour figures London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, who broke ranks to also challenge Sir Keir’s stance.

Sir Keir has remained united with Rishi Sunak, the US, and most recently the EU in pushing for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting, while supporting Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas.

The Labour leader has been holding meetings within his party to address concerns over his position and held talks with Muslim Labour MPs in parliament on 25 October, who urged him to back a ceasefire – believing the British public would back the move as well.