Israel-Hamas war: Will Sir Keir Starmer face a Labour rebellion? Will the Conservatives vote on a ceasefire?

The SNP will lead a debate in the House of Commons calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza

Sir Keir Starmer could be about to face the biggest rebellion since becoming Labour leader over a vote on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Later this afternoon the SNP will lead a debate in the House of Commons, calling on the UK Parliament to back calls for an immediate ceasefire in the region.

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UK Labour’s position on this issue has shifted massively in the past few days, with the party now calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Dan Kitwood/PA WireLabour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire

Meanwhile the Conservatives still don’t seem to want to back this call, and are reiterating their position that Israel has a right to defend itself.

So what exactly could happen this afternoon? We take a look at everything you need to know about the upcoming vote.

Why is the debate happening?

Today is a designated opposition day in Westminster, meaning the SNP is able to control the House of Commons’ order paper.

They will use this to stage two debates - one on an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, and another on a commitment to £28 billion of annual funding for green energy.

What is the SNP’s position?

The SNP has been in favour of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza since the war broke out in October.

Their motion today calls for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel” and for the “immediate release of all hostages taken by Hamas and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people”.

The party says this is the “only way to stop the slaughter of innocent lives”.

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The SNP previously held a vote on this in the House of Commons back in November.

What is Labour’s position?

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has consistently called for an immediate ceasefire in the region, and at the party’s annual conference in Glasgow over the weekend the party agreed this would also be their official stance.

On Sunday Sir Keir called for a “ceasefire that lasts” and the UK party has now tabled an amendment to the SNP’s motion calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

Their amendment adds the Israeli ground offensive in Rafah “risks catastrophic humanitarian consequences and therefore must not take place”.

However it also adds “Israel cannot be expected to cease fighting if Hamas continues with violence and that Israelis have the right to the assurances that the horror of 7 October cannot happen again”.

It also asks Israel to comply with the International Court of Justice’s provisional members and for the UN Security Council to meet urgently.

Why could Starmer face a rebellion?

While the SNP’s motion will definitely be heard, there is no guarantee the Labour amendment will.

If this happens and MPs end up voting on the SNP’s motion, Sir Keir is expected to order his MPs to abstain from the vote.

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Backbenchers have warned him he could face a rebellion if he whips them against voting in the debate.

At a similar SNP-led vote in November, 56 Labour MPs including eight frontbenchers rebelled, which was the biggest rebellion since Sir Keir became party leader.

A Labour source told The Guardian: “Everything now rests with the speaker.

“Our amendment should be enough to avoid another major rebellion on Gaza, but we’re not sure what MPs will do if it is not even called for a vote.”

What will Labour’s Scottish MPs do?

Labour has two MPs in Scotland - Ian Murray and Michael Shanks.

Back in November, the pair abstained from the vote on a ceasefire in Gaza.

However they will now be under pressure in today’s vote - do they side with Scottish Labour’s calls for an immediate ceasefire, or will they follow orders from the UK Labour leader to abstain from voting?

What are the Conservatives doing?

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has also put forward an amendment on the SNP’s motion on behalf of the Conservatives.

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This amendment instead “supports Israel’s right to self-defence against the terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas” and condemns the “slaughter, abuse and gender-based violence perpetrated on 7 October” and “further condemns the use of civilian areas by Hamas”.

Rather than calling for a ceasefire, the Conservatives are instead wanting to see a “humanitarian pause” that “moves towards a permanent sustainable ceasefire”.

It says this will only be achieved by Hamas releasing all hostages, the formation of a new Palestinian government, and Hamas being “unable” to launch any further attacks.

When will the vote take place?

The debate is expected to start at around 2pm and is scheduled to last until 7pm.



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