Around 250 Muslim Labour councillors have written directly to the Labour leader demanding he call for a ceasefire in Gaza, as backlash over his position grows from within his party, ITV News has learned.
They have demanded Keir Starmer change his position in a letter with a growing number of signatories, as he deals with growing tension within his party over his handling of the current situation in Gaza.
The letter, coordinated by Labour Muslim Councillor Network, reads: “As Labour councillors elected to serve our constituents, the message we have been hearing repeatedly over the past 2 weeks is simple, people just want an end to the bloodshed and the loss of innocent life.
"Therefore, as Labour Party councillors, as members, and as members of the Muslim community we urge the Labour Party to urgently adopt a position of calling for an immediate ceasefire.”
As the letter states, calling for a ceasefire is a national issue and not one that is exclusive to Muslims – a YouGov poll shows 76% of the British public support a ceasefire.
Several Labour MPs have told me they’re seeing their inboxes flooded with constituents from all backgrounds asking them to call for one.
But Sir Keir is facing these calls hours before he is set to meet with Muslim Labour MPs and peers over his Gaza position as tensions grow – with several telling me they are far from impressed with the way in which he has dealt with it.
He has already seen a fair few of his councillors resign – with many more telling me they’re considering stepping down. Attempts to calm things down don’t seem to have worked particularly well.
MPs, peers and councillors were "strongly advised" not attend any pro-Palestine marches - as I revealed last week - which angered many within the party who wanted to show solidarity to innocent civilians in Palestine.
There have been a number of meetings with the leadership since then - all of which have been described to me as being "explosive" and Wednesday's meeting is expected to be no different. It was made worse on Tuesday, following a weekend visit to South Wales Islamic Centre after which the Mosque released a statement saying Starmer had "gravely misrepresented congregants and the nature of his visit" with a social media post.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Labour leader said: “I was grateful to hear from the Muslim community of the South Wales Islamic Centre.
“I repeated our calls for all hostages to be released, more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, for the water and power to be switched back on, and a renewed focus on the two state solution.”
He said he was “questioned by members” and “made clear it is not and has never been my view that Israel had the right to cut off water, food, fuel or medicines. International law must be followed”.
The centre’s statement said: “We wish to stress Keir Starmer’s social media post and images gravely misrepresented our congregants and the nature of the visit.
“We affirm, unequivocally, the need for a free Palestine. We implore all those with political authority to uphold international law, and to end the occupation of Palestine.”
The centre said it wanted to “apologise for the hurt and confusion that our hosting of this visit has caused”.
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