David Lammy hopes for ‘two states living side by side in peace’
The Labour Party’s most senior figures have been forced into crunch crisis talks after it emerged they could be facing resignations over Sir Keir Starmer’s strident support for Israel.
Yesterday the Labour leadership arranged an urgent meeting with its council leaders about the party’s messaging on Gaza, with warnings one of Labour’s key councils could quit en masse.
Council leaders had “heated” talks with Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy, and Sir Keir’s Chief of Staff Sue Gray, who were told they “only have days to act”.
Local officials are now demanding that Sir Keir rows back on his previous interview comments about potential war crimes in Gaza, and saying he must take a firmer stance on Israel’s retaliation to Hamas’s terror attack.
The demands came hours before last night’s disputed explosion at a hospital in Gaza, which Hamas say is Israel’s doing, but the IDF insist was a Palestinian missile that misfired.
READ MORE: Emily Thornberry shuts down BBC over Israel-bashing
The greatest concern in Sir Keir’s office is over Leicester council, where a potential flurry of resignations could see Labour lose control of the city for the first time in 16 years.
Video calls to Labour council leaders from across the UK with David Lammy were reported to have gone badly, with participants warning that Labour has “days” to change his approach.
Last week, seven of Leicester’s Labour Muslim councillors published a letter “unequivocally distancing” themselves from Keir Starmer’s support for Israel and demanding he apologise.
An insider told the Telegraph: “I have never seen so much disdain from the local Muslim voting public towards the Labour Party as I have done over this week.
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“On a daily basis, we’re being looked at as if ‘why are you still here defending Labour’ because of the position that’s been taken nationally.
“If it carries on the way it is, we could well see a number of resignations.
“I know two or three councillors are on the verge of resigning. That’s how strongly they feel about it – they just feel they’re not being heard. Even I am astounded at the backlash.
“This has gone beyond difficult.”
Sir Keir is trapped between a rock and a hard place on this issue, having to distance himself from the infamous position of Jeremy Corbyn, and appeasing his party’s Muslim councillors, members and voters.
Two councillors in Oxford quit last week, taking aim at Keir Starmer’s “horrifying rhetoric”.
They were shortly joined by a councillor in Stroud and one in Manchester.
A council leader told the Zoom call with Mr Lammy and Ms Gray that they have more than a dozen councillors threatening to resign, and demanded something be done to appease them.
A source told ITV the entire meeting was a “total mess”, with others saying they were “shocked” at how desperate some council leaders are.
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