Rishi Sunak dismissed a member of the government for calling for an ongoing end to the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
The Conservative MP Paul Bristow — who until Monday afternoon served as Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan’s parliamentary private secretary — broke ranks with the prime minister to call for a cease-fire as he warned against “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza “for the crimes of Hamas.”
Last week, Bristow sent a letter to Sunak requesting that he urge a “permanent cease-fire” in order to “protect lives and enable ongoing delivery of humanitarian aid to those who are most in need.” The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on the letter on Monday.
The U.K. government has urged for “pauses” in the conflict to address humanitarian concerns. However, Sunak has stopped short of demanding a complete cease-fire, citing ongoing bombing by Hamas in Gaza towards Israel.
On Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Downing Street announced that Paul Bristow was asked to resign from his government position due to remarks that went against the principle of collective responsibility.
Bristow is the initial member of the frontbench from either the governing or opposing Labour Party to be dismissed for not following the leadership’s stance on the conflict.
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, is facing criticism from members of his own front-bench regarding his support for Sunak’s stance, which has also been backed by the U.S. and EU. They are calling for humanitarian “pauses” in the conflict instead of a complete cease-fire.
According to a Labour official who spoke anonymously with POLITICO London Playbook, more than twelve members of the Labour frontbench and several regional leaders have gone against Starmer’s directives. However, it has been reported that Starmer does not intend to fire these frontbenchers for deviating from the party’s stance.