A letter urging Labour leader Keir Starmer to call for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ in Gaza has been signed by a group of Brent councillors. The six signatories include the deputy mayor and the council leader’s brother.
The letter, written by the Labour Muslim Network, has been signed by more than 150 councillors across the country, including 43 representing London boroughs. It comes following growing tensions within the party regarding the leadership’s stance on the conflict in the Middle East.
The group sent the letter to Sir Keir on Wednesday, calling on the party’s leadership to back an “immediate ceasefire in Gaza” to protect civilians and allow access for humanitarian aid. It has been signed by Deputy Mayor Cllr Tariq Dar and the council leader’s brother, Cllr Saqib Butt, as well as Cllr Sandra Kabir, Cllr Saqlain Choudry, Cllr Rita Begum, and Cllr Ishma Moeen.
Sir Keir has faced criticism since appearing to say Israel had the “right” to cut off water and energy to Gaza. He later clarified that he meant only that the country had a right to self-defence following the October 7 attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The letter by the Labour Muslim Network said: “[…] as Labour Party councillors, as members, and as members of the Muslim community we urge the Labour Party to urgently adopt a position of calling for an immediate ceasefire, calling on the UK government and the international community to act upon this proposal to save innocent human lives.”
Brent Council leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, who is not a signatory of the letter, called the conflict “truly shocking and devastating”. In a statement released by Brent Council, he condemned violence “in all its forms” and hoped a peaceful solution could be reached to “prevent any more loss of life”.
He added: “Many Brent residents have friends or family directly affected and our thoughts and prayers are with all the people killed, or injured, and with their loved ones during this incredibly difficult time. […] Brent is a proudly diverse borough and it is important that we report any incidents of hate crime immediately to the police. There is no place for hate in Brent.”