Keir Starmer faces a turbulent backlash as party divisions deepen over the Middle East crisis
In a backdrop rife with tension, Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, consciously avoided mentioning the unfolding Middle East crisis during today’s PMQs. This evasion comes as Starmer faces increasing dissent within his party over his vocal support for Israel. The Labour party’s internal discord seems to be growing as differences over foreign affairs become increasingly evident.
Sir Keir is bracing himself for a heated afternoon meeting with disgruntled Muslim MPs and peers. His primary agenda? To pacify the growing anger surrounding his assertive stance on Israel’s right to counter Hamas terror attacks. This conflict isn’t just restricted to his party members. A mosque in Wales has accused Sir Keir of “gravely misrepresenting” their discussions during a recent visit.
Labour’s internal schism has become pronounced since the recent events in Israel. Numerous councillors have resigned, and left-leaning MPs are openly expressing their discontent. Today’s turmoil was further exacerbated by a letter from 150 councillors demanding Sir Keir to call for a ceasefire, a move neither the UK nor the US has made, fearing it might hinder Israel’s actions against Hamas.
The epicentre of the criticism seems to stem from an LBC interview. In it, Sir Keir appeared to suggest that Israel has the ‘right’ to restrict power and water in Gaza. While he later denied endorsing Israel withholding humanitarian aid, stating his comments pertained to a separate matter, this clarification has failed to douse the flames of the dispute.
His recent visit to the South Wales Islamic Centre further added fuel to the fire. Post visit, Sir Keir conveyed his gratitude to the Muslim community and reiterated his calls for the release of all hostages, the need for more humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the urgency to reinstate power and water.
However, the South Wales Islamic Centre expressed their regret over hosting him, stating that Starmer’s social media post “gravely misrepresented our congregants and the nature of the visit”. Their statement emphatically stressed the need for a free Palestine and implored political leaders to respect international law and end the occupation of Palestine.