MULTIPLE Labour frontbenchers have defied Keir Starmer with a pledge to back calls for a ceasefire in Gaza in a crunch Commons vote.

Naz Shah, shadow minister for crime reduction, broke ranks with her party leader as she confirmed plans to vote for an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech backing a ceasefire.

Shadow education minister Helen Hayes has also said her “conscience” told her she should back the ceasefire, along with shadow business minister Afzal Khan.

Labour frontbenchers are facing the sack if they back the amendment, as Starmer bids to avoid a damaging split in his parliamentary party. However, it is understood several Labour MPs are planning to resign as frontbenchers, including Jess Phillips and Kim Leadbeater.

Labour MPs have been ordered to abstain on the SNP move and have instead been told to back Starmer's position calling for longer “humanitarian pauses” rather than a ceasefire.

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has said Parliament must “show moral leadership” and vote in favour of backing an immediate cessation of hostilities.

Labour frontbenchers who rebel to back a rival amendment would normally face the sack for breaking the party whip.

READ MORE: Scottish Labour MPs won't back SNP Gaza ceasefire call in Commons

Shah (below) said a “humanitarian catastrophe” is taking place in Gaza as she backed calls for an “immediate ceasefire”.

She told the Commons: “I will be supporting the amendment which seeks an immediate ceasefire.”

The National:

The Bradford West MP also invoked Robin Cook, who resigned from Sir Tony Blair’s Cabinet over the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“Make no mistake, this is a humanitarian catastrophe which is why I urge members to back an immediate ceasefire on all sides and push for the release of hostages,” she said.

Hayes told the Commons: “I have heard from thousands of my constituents who have been in contact with me over the past month to share their views. They too are completely horrified at what they are seeing and they want to see every possible effort being made to stop the conflict.

“They understand that this is what is being signalled by the word ceasefire.

“In calling for a ceasefire no-one is suggesting that the cessation should be unilateral or that it should be without conditions. Hamas must release the hostages. In war, ceasefires do not always hold and I think we must all be realistic about the intensity of this conflict, but a bilateral humanitarian cessation of the violence, a ceasefire, is surely the minimum we should be demanding in the face of such horrific suffering.”

Khan, MP for Manchester Gorton told the Commons: “If we had a ceasefire yesterday 144 Gazan children would still be alive today. Israel has already crossed every red line imaginable and broken international humanitarian laws.

“History has shown us that military action alone does not resolve conflicts and Israel’s use of force will not resolve this one.

“We need to call an immediate ceasefire now. My constituents have demanded this and I will not refuse them. Supporting a ceasefire is the very least we can do.”

Both Labour’s amendment and the SNP’s one have been selected for a vote on Wednesday evening by Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle.

A party spokesman earlier said: “This is a whipped vote and every MP knows what the consequence of that means.”

The party position on the Middle East conflict has led to internal splits, with the leadership backing the UK Government’s position of pushing for humanitarian pauses in the fighting to allow aid to reach Palestinians trapped in the bombarded territory but stopping short of calling for a total cessation of hostilities.

However, several shadow ministers have openly called for a ceasefire and dozens of councillors have resigned from Labour over its refusal to back a permanent halt to the violence.

In a letter to MPs, the SNP’s Flynn wrote: “By refusing to join the United Nations in pressing for an immediate ceasefire, Westminster would be disregarding international law, condoning collective punishment and giving the green light to the continued bombardment of Gaza, which has seen thousands of innocent children and civilians killed.

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“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.”

By tradition, those occupying frontbench positions are bound by a collective responsibility that they support the party’s position but, so far, Starmer has allowed some to deviate by expressing support for a ceasefire in Gaza.

But the Labour spokesperson said that “space” for debate did not extend to a vote in Parliament because “that has a significance to it that everybody understands”.

The Commons showdown comes as Israeli forces entered Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital.

The Israeli army had surrounded the facility as part of its ground offensive against Hamas, claiming the militant group conceals military operations in the complex.

But with hundreds of patients and medical personnel inside, the move risks civilian casualties.

Hamas raids on October 7 killed 1200 people in Israel and saw more than 200 taken hostage.

Retaliatory strikes, including a ground offensive into northern Gaza, by Tel Aviv’s forces have killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell is in Cairo on Wednesday to hold talks with Egyptian counterparts and other partners on how to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza.