A council leader and ten councillors have announced their resignation from the Labour Party, citing dissatisfaction with Sir Keir Starmer’s decision not to advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Among those to leave the party is Afrasiab Anwar, the leader of Burnley Council, who had previously called for Starmer’s resignation on this issue.
The councillors released a statement indicating that their continued memberships within the party had become “untenable,” the BBC reported.
Labour Party supports the government’s position, urging Israel to temporarily stop its actions against Hamas to allow Gaza to receive aid.
A party spokesperson acknowledged the calls for a ceasefire but argued that an immediate ceasefire might only temporarily “freeze the conflict,” potentially leaving hostages in Gaza and Hamas capable of launching further attacks on Israel.
This stance has prompted several resignations in councils across England, including Oxford, where the Labour Party has lost control of the city council.
Anwar, along with nine other Burnley councillors and Lancashire County councillor Usman Arif, has resigned from the Labour Party and will now serve as independents.
Prior to their resignations, the Labour group held 22 out of 45 seats on Burnley Council. It remains the largest party following Sunday’s (5) announcement.
In their joint statement they said, “We have collectively decided to resign from the Labour Party with immediate effect, feeling that our place within the party is untenable given its present position.
“We cannot remain in a party that is not doing enough whilst innocent people are being killed in Gaza and Israel.”
Sobia Malik, the representative for Burnley Central East on Lancashire County Council, announced her resignation from the Labour party last week.
As Members of Parliament resume their duties in Westminster this week, Labour’s leadership anticipates increased pressure regarding its stance.
Several Labour MPs, including shadow ministers, have advocated for a ceasefire, but Starmer has dismissed these appeals.
Concerns about Starmer’s stance have reportedly reached shadow cabinet levels within the party.
A spokesperson from the Labour Party emphasised the collective desire to stop the ongoing cycle of violence and suffering, highlighting the importance of releasing hostages and delivering aid to those in critical need.
They further stressed the crucial adherence to international law and the need to protect innocent civilians in all circumstances.