- Eight shadow ministers and two private secretaries stood down on Wednesday
- A senior Labour figure has suggested they could be part of a future government
Labour frontbenchers who defied Keir Starmer to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza could be let back into his top team.
Eight shadow ministers and two parliamentary private secretaries stood down on Wednesday night after ignoring a three-line whip to vote for an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech demanding an ‘immediate ceasefire’.
But a senior Labour figure has suggested the rebels could still be part of a future government.
Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: ‘That’s for well down the track. They were frontbenchers before the vote last night. They are backbenchers now. All of them I know will work with us together to secure a Labour government.’
A source close to one senior rebel said: ‘Some frontbenchers were told that if they resigned, they’d have to go but it wouldn’t be the end for them. If they rebelled in ‘the right way’, they could then sort something out further down the line.
Labour frontbenchers who defied Keir Starmer to vote for a ceasefire in Gaza could be let back into his top team
Jess Phillips responds after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave a statement to MPs in the House of Commons on the latest situation on the Israel-Hamas conflict. She was the most recent to resign
‘They were told this wasn’t the end – and some were given assurances that they will be able to return.’
Four of the frontbenchers who resigned yesterday – Dan Carden, Mary Foy, Sarah Owen and Rachel Hopkins – had previously quit over the ‘spycops’ bill in 2020 before returning to the fold.
In total, 56 Labour MPs voted for the SNP’s amendment, which went further than Labour’s calls for ‘longer’ humanitarian pauses in the besieged Palestinian enclave. The motion was defeated in the Commons by 293 votes to 125.
The Tories accused Sir Keir of being unable to control his own party, with minister Greg Hands saying: ‘If this is how easily they fall apart when in opposition, with the leadership being openly defied, how would they ever cope in government?’
But Mr Healey said the departures showed that the leadership was demanding discipline from shadow ministers.
‘We are not a protest party,’ he told Times Radio. ‘What we are doing and saying now is how we would act in government. This is a difficult issue we faced. But Keir Starmer was right when it comes to a parliamentary vote to be firm, to require collective responsibility and discipline.
‘And he was not going to change his principal position for the sake of internal party management, which we’ve seen time and time again with Rishi Sunak trying to control his own Conservative MPs.’
Afzal Khan making a speech at an NHS rally at Leeds Beckett University Students Union
Chair of the Association for Children Damaged by Hormone Pregnancy Tests Marie Lyon (left) and Yasmin Qureshi MP
But a Tory spokesman said: ‘This is typical Starmer, playing politics and taking the easy way out. Any serious leader will tell you in times of war you cannot be seen as a soft touch when it comes to party discipline.
‘Sir Keir should make a stand instead of leaving the door open for his rebellious frontbenchers to come crawling back.’
The continuing chaos in the party comes as a poll revealed that half of Muslim voters who backed Labour in 2019 now feel more negatively.
A Savanta survey revealed that 48 per cent are against Sir Keir’s handling of the Gaza conflict and refusal to call for a ceasefire.