Sir Keir Starmer under pressure after Labour frontbencher Imran Hussain resigns over party’s stance on the Israel-Hamas war

Labour frontbencher Imran Hussain has resigned over Sir Keir Starmer’s position on the crisis in the Middle East.

The MP for Bradford East, said he was quitting his role as shadow minister for the new deal for working people to be able to “strongly advocate” for a ceasefire.

The Labour leader is fighting mounting pressure with calls from frustrated MPs for clarification on his position over the Israel-Hamas war.

Sir Keir is facing a deepening battle to ease unrest in the party and to maintain discipline in his top team on the Gaza conflict after backlash over his refusal to demand a ceasefire.

In a letter to Sir Keir, Mr Hussain said he was “deeply troubled” by an interview in which the Labour leader appeared to suggest the Israeli government had a right to withhold water and power from citizens in Gaza.

“It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to tender my resignation as shadow minister for the New Deal for Working People after eight years on the Labour Party frontbench,” Mr Hussain said.

He said he had been “proud” to work alongside Sir Keir and his deputy, Angela Rayner, in developing a plan for employment rights, but could not “in all good conscience” push for a cessation of hostilities while remaining part of the front bench.

Labour Leader Keir Starmer and party members arrive ahead of a meeting in the Cabinet Office (Getty)

Mr Hussain said: “It has become clear that my view on the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from the position you have adopted.”

The MP made his his view on the conflict in Israel and Gaza clear in a fiery speech in the House of Commons in October.

At least 16 shadow ministers have either called for a ceasefire or shared others’ calls on social media, including Yasmin Qureshi and Jess Phillips.

Sir Keir has insisted collective responsibility remains important, but declined to say whether frontbenchers would face getting sacked for breaking ranks to urge an end to fighting.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Labour fully understands calls for a ceasefire. Everybody wants to see an end to the shocking images we are seeing in Gaza. We need to see all hostages released and aid getting to those most in need.

Imran Hussain told Sir Keir: 'My view on the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza differs substantially from your position'

“But a ceasefire now will only freeze this conflict and would leave hostages in Gaza and Hamas with the infrastructure and capability to carry out the sort of attack we saw on October 7.

“International law must be followed at all times and innocent civilians must be protected. Labour is calling for humanitarian pauses in the fighting.

“This is the best and most realistic way to address the humanitarian emergency in Gaza and is a position shared by our major allies.”

Burnley’s council leader, Afrasiab Anwar, and 10 other councillors quit the party on Sunday, describing their memberships as “untenable” given the leader’s refusal to go beyond his call for “humanitarian pauses” amid the escalating conflict.