GAZA CONFLICT: Apsana Begum only local MP to join Labour rebels in Commons vote

Apsana Begum. Pic: PA Wire

By Jordana Seal, Luke Cromhout and Molly Smith

Apsana Begum was the only local Labour MP to defy the party whip and vote the Scottish National Party’s amendment to the Kings Speech calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Begum, the MP for Poplar and Limehouse was among the 56 Labour MPs who voted for the SNP’s amendment in defiance of the party whip, voting in favour of the ceasefire. 

In an attempt to keep unity among the Labour party over the Israel-Hamas war, Labour officials said that any front bencher would be sacked if they backed the SNP’s call for an amendment to the Kings Speech to explicitly call for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Apsana Begum speaking in the House of Commons earlier this week. Pic: House of Commons

Eastlondonlines has approached Begum for comment. The other seven Labour MPs from the ELL areas toed the party line and abstained from the SNP amendment vote. 

In a statement published on X last night, Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green, explained her reasons for abstaining from the SNP vote, she said: “I want to see a ceasefire and I have been clear about this, but the reality is that this motion does not secure a ceasefire and would not lead towards one.”

She also said that Begum’s decision to vote for a ceasefire was a ‘symbolic measure’. 

Alternatively, Labour’s amendment to the King’s Speech called for longer humanitarian pauses in Gaza rather than a ceasefire. 

The Labour leaderships’ amendment states that the proposed longer pauses will provide “assistance on a scale that begins to meet the desperate needs of the people in Gaza, which is a necessary step to an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible and a credible, diplomatic and political process to deliver the lasting peace of a two-state solution.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer forbade his shadow cabinet ministers from voting for the SNP’s amendment. Pic: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Begum abstained from voting in Starmer’s amendment while the other seven ELL Labour MPs voted in favour of it. 

The votes for Labour’s amendment calling for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war were 183 votes in favour and 290 votes against.

The votes for SNP’s amendment calling for a ceasefire in Gaza was voted down by MPs, there were 125 votes in favour and 293 votes against. 

Dianne Abbott, former Labour shadow cabinet member and current independent MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington was among those who voted for the SNP amendment and against Labour’s amendment.

Posting on X, she said: “I did not vote for a ‘humanitarian pause’ as it provides no real relief from the violence.”at the start of the meeting

The vote saw a number of Labour MPs resign from the front bench by voting for the SNP amendment including:

  • Imran Hussain, shadow minister for the new deal for working people (resigned on 8 November)
  • Yasmin Qureshi, shadow minister for women and equalities
  • Paula Barker, shadow minister for devolution
  • Afzal Khan, shadow minister for exports
  • Jess Phillips, shadow minister for domestic abuse
  • Naz Shah, shadow minister for crime reduction
  • Sarah Owen, shadow minister for local government, faith and communities
  • Rachel Hopkins, shadow minister for veterans
  • Andy Slaughter, shadow solicitor general
  • Dan Carden, PPS
  • Mary Foy, PPS

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