KEIR Starmer has been hit by a wave of resignations from his top team after they backed the SNP’s calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

MPs voted down the SNP’s motion – backed by 56 Labour MPs – on Wednesday night, in a vote which exposed the cracks in Starmer’s party.

Jess Phillips was the most high-profile MP to defy Starmer and back a ceasefire and quit as shadow domestic violence minister after casting her vote with the SNP.  

Yasmin Qureshi became the first Labour frontbencher on Wednesday to resign her position to vote with the SNP when she quit as shadow minister for women and equalities.

She was later joined by shadow exports minister Afzal Khan and Paula Barker.

Both Scottish Labour MPs, Ian Murray and Michael Shanks, toed the party line by abstaining on the SNP vote and backing Labour's amendment, which instead called for longer humanitarian pauses. 

In total, 56 Labour MPs defied Starmer to vote for a ceasefire including a number of shadow ministers. 

Among them were 10 frontbenchers in the form of eight shadow ministers and two parliamentary private secretaries. 

The National: Stephen Flynn

Speaking after the vote, SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn (above) said: "It's obviously a significant rebellion within the Labour ranks and all credit to that 56 because what they've chosen to do is put international law and protection of civilian life first and they deserve to be congratulated for that. 

"My only regret is that the leader of the Labour Party and the leader of the Conservative Party have, of course, chosen not to back a ceasefire and I think history will judge them poorly for that."

READ MORE: Multiple Labour frontbench MPs break ranks calling for ceasefire in Gaza

He added: "Collectively those of us who believe in the protection of international law and in the protection of civilians will all be looking to keep the pressure up in this Parliament. 

"Ultimately, in the UK system that we have, foreign affairs is a matter for this place and for the UK Government and it's incumbent on all members of Parliament to make sure that we continue the fight for peace in the Middle East and the protection of civilians."

Labour had imposed a three-line whip on MPs ordering them to both back their amendment – which fell short of calling for a ceasefire while urging “longer” humanitarian pauses – and not the SNP’s amendment.

Starmer's response to rebels

Responding to the rebellion, Starmer said he felt "regret" some of his MPs voted for a ceasefire but insisted he believed he had "done the right thing".

In a statement, the Labour leader said: "On October 7, Israel suffered its worst terrorist attack in a single day at the hands of Hamas.
“No government would allow the capability and intent to repeat such an attack to go unchallenged.

"Since then, we have also seen an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza. At every stage during this crisis, my approach has been driven by the need to respond to both these tragedies. 
“To stand by the right to self-defence of any nation which suffers terrorism on this scale, alongside the basic human rights and dignity of innocent Palestinians caught, once again, in the crossfire. 

READ MORE: Scottish Labour MPs fall in line with Starmer and won't back SNP Gaza ceasefire call
“Alongside leaders around the world, I have called throughout for adherence to international law, for humanitarian pauses to allow access for aid, food, water, utilities and medicine, and have expressed our concerns at the scale of civilian casualties.

"Much more needs to be done in this regard to ease the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Gaza.
“And in addition to addressing the present, every leader has a duty not to go back to a failed strategy of containment and neglect, but to forge a better and more secure future for both Palestinians and Israelis. 
“I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight. But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand.

"Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”

Amnesty International's UK chief executive Sacha Deshmukh said: "This vote was a historic missed opportunity for MPs to show they genuinely support the protection of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.

"UK MPs who voted against a ceasefire have badly let them down."

The National: Protesters gathered outside Parliament as MPs voted on a ceasefireProtesters gathered outside Parliament as MPs voted on a ceasefire (Image: -)

MPs voted as a large protest amassed outside Parliament to call for a ceasefire.

Gates to allow cars outside were closed by the scale of the demonstration and the parliamentary authorities issued safety guidance to people working in Westminster in response.

In the debate before the vote, LibDem MP Layla Moran (below), who is half Palestinian and has family in Gaza, was interrupted when she informed the Commons a family member of hers had died.

The National: Layla Moran

Making a point of order, the MP said: “I wanted to let the House know that today I lost my first family member.

“The reason why this is important, having spoken about how they are in a church in Gaza City and how they didn’t I am afraid die of a bomb, instead they died perhaps for lack of food, perhaps for dehydration.

“Their health deteriorated in the last week and they couldn’t get to the hospital they needed.”

She was cut off when she added: “I have been so disappointed by language I have heard today. The Prime Minister earlier suggesting that we weren’t on the side of Israel.”

Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans expressed his condolences but insisted it was “not a matter for the chair”.