SCOTTISH Labour MP Michael Shanks has refused to back his nominal leader Anas Sarwar over calls for the UK to stop exporting weapons to Israel.

Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Shanks instead backed his UK leaders’ position on whether or not the UK should be providing arms to Israel.

Sarwar, who heads up the Scottish Labour group and who Shanks described as his leader when running for election as an MP, has gone further than his UK bosses, has said he believes Israel has clearly breached international law and that weapons exports should cease.

Sarwar said earlier in April: “A failure to properly access humanitarian aid into Gaza, the targeting of infrastructure like hospitals and schools, innocent civilians losing their lives on such a huge scale in Gaza, and the death of aid workers killed because of IDF [Israeli Defence Force] attacks.

“These are clear breaches, in my view, of international law and therefore we should not be selling arms to Israel.”

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However, appearing on the BBC, Shanks would not back Sarwar's position and instead insisted it was "right" that the UK Labour Party has declined to call for an end to Israeli weapons exports without seeing the UK Government's legal advice on the issue.

Labour’s position is that if the legal advice says arms exports should stop, then they should.

Appearing on the BBC's Sunday Show, Shanks claimed that Sarwar and UK leader Keir Starmer shared a position, although they do not.

The shadow Labour minister said: “Both Anas and Keir have said very clearly that if there is any evidence – and we don't know what the government's intelligence is at the moment – if there's any evidence to suggest then we should stop arms now.”

Shanks was pushed on the fact that Sarwar has actually called for weapons exports to end regardless of what legal advice may say, while Starmer is “effectively saying carry on if it’s legal”.

He responded: “I don't think that is what he's saying, actually, but there's a legal process here. It's right that we find out what intelligence the UK Government's got.

“The difficulty with all of this is that I would expect a question on this tomorrow in the House of Commons. But we can't ask the Foreign Secretary about it because he's not in the House of Commons.

“So if there is intelligence that the Government have on this issue, it's right that we should suspend arms sales. But there has to be a legal process to this and it's right that we look at it.”

Asked if he would be comfortable selling arms to Israel if advice said it was legal, Shanks was evasive.

“Look … it's a small amount of arms that are sold,” he said.

Pushed again, he went on: “Look, the resolution to this conflict is not just around arms sales. It's around as we saw last night, not escalating this conflict any further.”

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And pushed again, he said: “What we've said very clearly is that if the evidence from the intelligence that the UK Government has suggested that arms should not be sold, that this has been used in a way that's not legal, we should absolutely stop.

“We haven't seen that evidence, so I'm not going to comment on intelligence that I haven't seen.”

On Friday, SNP leader Humza Yousaf once again urged the UK Government to rethink its plans to continue to allow arms exports to Israel – warning it risks being “complicit in the killing of innocent civilians”.

The First Minister said it was “difficult to comprehend” that the UK Government has not ended the licensing of arms exports to Israel despite the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians, the majority women and children, since last October.

He condemned the attacks by Hamas on October 7 which sparked the conflict but said the response “has gone far beyond any legitimate response”.