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by Louise Wilson
15 November 2023
Humza Yousaf accuses Keir Starmer of ‘lack of moral leadership’ as SNP pushes for Gaza ceasefire vote

Keir Starmer has called for a 'humanitarian pause' rather than full ceasefire | Alamy

Humza Yousaf accuses Keir Starmer of ‘lack of moral leadership’ as SNP pushes for Gaza ceasefire vote

Humza Yousaf has accused Labour of a “complete lack of moral leadership” following reports that Keir Starmer will sack any frontbench MP who votes on the SNP’s amendment on a ceasefire in Gaza.

The SNP has put forward an amendment to Wednesday’s debate on the King’s Speech which would urge the UK Government to “join with the international community in urgently pressing all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire.”

Labour’s position is for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid to get into Gaza, but stops short of a full ceasefire – though Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has backed the latter.

Whether the amendment will be debated will be at the discretion of the Speaker.

PoliticsHome confirmed on Tuesday night that Starmer had ordered his MPs not the participate in the vote at all, and instead will use its own amendment to give MPs a vote on the Middle East situation.

A growing number of frontbenchers have called publicly for a ceasefire, including shadow justice minister Afzal Khan, shadow domestic violence minister Jess Phillips, and opposition whip Kim Leadbeater.

And Imran Hussain became the first shadow minister to resign from the frontbench this week in order to advocate more freely for the position.

A party spokesperson confirmed that its MPs will not be taking part in the SNP vote if their amendment is selected. They said: “We're not going to be engaging with the party political game playing by the SNP in parliament.”

But in response to the news, the First Minister tweeted: “What a complete lack of moral leadership. The SNP will force a vote on a ceasefire. This is a plea for every MP to do the right thing and vote with their conscience.”

The SNP has been calling for a ceasefire for several weeks.

The party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has written to all MPs urging them to support the amendment if it is selected.

He said: “People understand that the conflict in the Middle East is full of complexity. But amidst all that complexity, they also recognise a very human truth. People know that what we are all watching in Gaza is wrong and they want their MPs to do the right thing, show moral leadership and press for an immediate ceasefire.

“This is about upholding our values and I hope you will join us in doing the right thing on Wednesday by voting for an immediate ceasefire.”

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