The Labour leader saw vast swathes of his parliamentary party ignore his orders and vote in favour of an SNP-led demand for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ in the Middle East.
Sir Keir also lost 10 Labour frontbenchers – including former leadership contender Jess Phillips – after they broke ranks with their party leader and disregarded a three-line whip he had imposed.
Their challenge to Sir Keir’s authority came despite the Labour leader having told his MPs to abstain from the vote on the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech.
He had instead ordered his parliamentary party to vote for a bland amendment he tabled himself, which supported ‘humanitarian pauses’ in the conflict.
The revolt is the largest the Labour party has suffered under Sir Keir’s leadership.
This evening’s vote was held as pro-Palestinian supporters staged a large demonstration outside Parliament.
The crisis in the Middle East, sparked by the Hamas terrorist atrocities on 7 October, had already caused weeks of discomfort for Sir Keir as he battles with the huge divisions within his party.
But, despite the major Commons rebellion against him tonight, Sir Keir stuck to his stance on wanting humanitarian ‘pauses’ – rather than a full ceasefire – as he declared ‘leadership is about doing the right thing’.
The Labour leader also reiterated his support for Israel’s right to self-defence in the wake of the Hamas attacks.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps swiped that those MPs voting for a ceasefire were ‘essentially voting to give Hamas the green light to commit further terrorist atrocities’.
Sir Keir Starmer suffered a huge Labour revolt in the House of Commons as 56 of his MPs defied him and backed calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas
This evening’s vote was held as pro-Palestinian supporters staged a large demonstration outside Parliament
Undated handout photo issued by UK Parliament of Jess Phillips who has become the most high-profile Labour MP to quit the frontbench over Sir Keir Starmer’s stance on Gaza
In a resignation letter to Sir Keir, which she posted on Twitter, Ms Phillips wrote: ‘This week has been one of the toughest weeks in politics since I entered Parliament’
Yasmin Qureshi (L) and Afzal Khan are among the Labour frontbenchers to have quit
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for ‘all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza.
Along with the 56 Labour MPs, it was supported by 39 SNP MPs, 15 Liberal Democrats and independent MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Andy McDonald.
There are a total of 198 Labour MPs, which means more than one-quarter of Sir Keir’s party rebelled against him this evening.
Those 10 Labour MPs who left Sir Keir’s front bench tonight after backing a ceasefire included eight shadow ministers.
They were Ms Phillips, Paula Barker, Rachel Hopkins, Afzal Khan, Sarah Owen, Yasmin Qureshi, Naz Shah and Andy Slaughter.
Dan Carden and Mary Foy also left their roles as parliamentary private secretaries.
Shortly after tonight’s vote, Ms Phillips announced she had quit as shadow minister for safeguarding and domestic abuse.
In a resignation letter to Sir Keir, which she posted on Twitter, she wrote: ‘This week has been one of the toughest weeks in politics since I entered Parliament.
‘I have tried to do everything that I could to make it so that this was not the outcome, but it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my post in the shadow Home Office team.
‘On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart which has felt as if it were breaking over the last four weeks with the horror of the situation in Israel and Palestine.
‘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.’
Ms Qureshi had already announced her resignation as shadow minister for women and equalities prior to tonight’s vote, as she criticised Sir Keir’s support for humanitarian ‘pauses’ rather than a ceasefire.
In a letter to her party leader, she wrote: ‘The situation in Gaza desperately requires an immediate ceasefire to address the humanitarian catastrophe and to advance moves towards a political solution that brings freedom, prosperity, and security.
‘Only through a humanitarian ceasefire can aid be reliably delivered into Gaza. Along with the UN and other humanitarian agencies, I believe that the scale of need is so high that ‘pauses’ cannot offer the time and securioty needed to meet even basic civilian needs.
‘Anything short of a ceasefire will lead to the loss of more lives.’
Yasmin Qureshi announced her resignation as shadow minister for women and equalities in order to vote for the SNP amendment
The Labour rebellion came despite Sir Keir having told his MPs to abstain in a vote on the SNP amendment to the King’s Speech
The Labour leader had instead ordered his parliamentary party to vote for a bland amendment he tabled himself, which supported ‘humanitarian pauses’ in the conflict.
Mr Khan also resigned as a shadow trade minister just ahead of tonight’s vote, posting on social media: ‘With 11,000+ Gazans killed, supporting a full & immediate ceasefire is the very least we can do.
‘In order to be free to do so, I have stepped down as Shadow Minister for Exports.’
Ms Foy left her role as a parliamentary aide to Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner after she backed a ceasefire.
In the Commons debate prior to voting on the King’s Speech, Ms Shah said a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’ is taking place in Gaza as she backed calls for an ‘immediate ceasefire’.
The shadow Home Office minister told the Commons: ‘I will be supporting the amendment which seeks an immediate ceasefire.’
The Bradford West MP also invoked Robin Cook, who resigned from Sir Tony Blair’s Cabinet over the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
‘Make no mistake, this is a humanitarian catastrophe which is why I urge members to back an immediate ceasefire on all sides and push for the release of hostages,’ she said.
Ms Hayes, a shadow minister for children and early years, said her ‘conscience’ told her she should back a ceasefire.
‘We must all of us be able to stand in front of our own constituents with integrity and at peace with our own conscience on the issues that matter most to them.
‘My conscience tells me that I must call for a ceasefire today,’ the Dulwich and West Norwood MP said.
Sir Keir’s stance on the Middle East conflict has led to deep internal splits within his party.
He has backed the Government’s position of pushing for humanitarian pauses in the fighting to allow aid to reach Palestinians trapped in Gaza.
But Sir Keir has stopped short of calling for a total cessation of hostilities and repeatedly backed Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of the 7 October attacks.
Several shadow ministers had already openly called for a ceasefire and dozens of councillors have resigned from Labour over Sir Keir’s refusal to back a permanent halt to the violence.
In response to tonight’s vote, Sir Keir said in a statement: ‘On 7 October, Israel suffered its worst terrorist attack in a single day at the hands of Hamas.
‘No government would allow the capability and intent to repeat such an attack to go unchallenged. Since then, we have also seen an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza. At every stage during this crisis, my approach has been driven by the need to respond to both these tragedies.
‘To stand by the right to self-defence of any nation which suffers terrorism on this scale, alongside the basic human rights and dignity of innocent Palestinians caught, once again, in the crossfire.
‘Alongside leaders around the world, I have called throughout for adherence to international law, for humanitarian pauses to allow access for aid, food, water, utilities and medicine, and have expressed our concerns at the scale of civilian casualties. Much more needs to be done in this regard to ease the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Gaza.
‘And in addition to addressing the present, every leader has a duty not to go back to a failed strategy of containment and neglect, but to forge a better and more secure future for both Palestinians and Israelis.
‘I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight. But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand. Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.’
Mr Shapps posted on Twitter: ‘Voting for a ceasefire is essentially voting to give Hamas the green light to commit further terrorist atrocities.
‘If Britain had been attacked on October 7, and we knew exactly where the murderers were, would any MP seriously be voting not to go after them?
‘Israel must target Hamas proportionally & within international humanitarian law to protect civilians, de-escalate tensions in the West Bank & go ahead with meaningful humanitarian pauses to ensure aid is distributed.
‘But Israel has the right to defend itself against terrorism.’
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