TWENTY councillors in Lancashire have resigned their Labour memberships in protest over the party’s leadership.

The councillors each sit on Pendle Borough Council, Nelson Town Council or Brierfield Town Council.

They have claimed that Keir Starmer’s leadership no longer reflects their views and say they will now serve as independents.

It is understood that the mass resignation is the largest defection under Starmer’s leadership, who has faced a wave of resignations over his stance on a ceasefire in Gaza.

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In November, 11 councillors quit the party in Burnley over his decision not to push for a ceasefire in Gaza.

We previously told how a number of officials in Scotland also quit the party following a “gag order” on discussing Gaza.

Councillor Mohammed Iqbal, who is one of the 20 to resign from the party, told BBC North West on Monday: “In the last few weeks there has been a culture developing from the national Labour Party that seems to want to control anything that any councillor wants to say.”

He added: “The party nationally seems to want to control who can stand where and when. We don’t think that’s right so we have taken the difficult decision to resign.”

Elsewhere, Councillor Asjad Mahmood said: “I, along with my colleagues, were elected by local residents to represent them in the council chamber.

“As a Labour councillor, I have always felt that the party’s policies were aligned with my own beliefs and those of the constituents who have honoured me with their votes.

“Sadly, over a recent period, senior party officials have attempted to impose their ideas at a local level. I was elected to serve the public, not party officials.”

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A party spokesperson for Labour said: “The Labour Party’s focus is on winning the General Election so we can improve the lives of those we are elected to serve.”

Four of the 20 councillors are set to stand for re-election in May and candidate lists will be available on April 8, according to the Electoral Commission.