Scottish Labour head Anas Sarwar has refused to be drawn into a clear confrontation with his party leader Sir Keir Starmer over the demand for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Sarwar said he supported a ceasefire, but refused to say if he would have supported a Westminster vote on the matter in defiance of Sir Keir’s stance on the matter.
Labour’s 56 MPs, including several of Sir Keir’s policy team, voted with the Scottish National Party last week to urge the government to call for a “full, comprehensive and immediate humanitarian pause in the fighting across the whole of Gaza now”.
But the backing of so many Labour MPs showed the levels of disquiet in the party over the Middle East conflict, although its two Scottish MPs did not back the vote.
Sir Keir has called for “humanitarian pauses” to help aid reach Gaza rather than a ceasefire which, according to the UK and US governments, would allow Hamas to regroup after its attack on October 7.
Eight members of the Labour shadow ministerial team left their roles in order to defy the party position.
But Sarwar declined to say if he would have rebelled against Sir Keir if he were to vote for the proposal in the Commons.
“I support a ceasefire, but the idea that this is about the internal machinations of the Labour Party is ridiculous,” he said on BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show.
In an article in the Daily Record, Sarwar insisted Labour was “united” in its commitment to “seeing a cessation of violence in Palestine and Israel.”
“What we need to see now is an end to rocket fire into and out of Gaza – let me be clear that means a ceasefire right now – and we need to see the immediate release of hostages, the immediate and free flow of humanitarian supplies including water, food, electricity and medicine, and a pathway to a peace process based on a two-state solution.”
Scotland’s parliament is set to debate a ceasefire on Tuesday (21).