SNP motion on Gaza ceasefire is ‘pretty reasonable’ – Sarwar

Scotland’s Labour leader has said an SNP motion which will force a second Westminster vote on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas seems “perfectly reasonable”.

Anas Sarwar backed an end to violence in Gaza during his Scottish Labour conference speech on Friday.

However, Mr Sarwar has been urged to whip his two Scottish Labour MPs – Ian Murray and Michael Shanks – to vote for an immediate ceasefire when the SNP table a Commons motion next week.

Mr Sarwar has in recent weeks dismissed suggestions of a difference between his party’s position and that of the UK party under Sir Keir Starmer.

Sir Keir has now backed an end to the violence, but has stopped short of confirming how he will urge MPs to vote.

Speaking to journalists at the Scottish Labour conference on Saturday, Mr Sarwar said there was “probably not any distance at all now” between his views and Sir Keir’s.

He added: “It’s pretty clear that Labour supports a ceasefire and wants to see alongside that ceasefire an immediate end to rocket fire, immediate release of hostages, immediate access to humanitarian aid.”

Mr Sarwar was shown the SNP motion by journalists and then said: “Look, it seems perfectly reasonable, but we will look and see what the motion tabled this week looks like and what any amendments look like.

“We all want the same thing – Stephen Flynn (the SNP’s Westminster leader) and I both want an immediate ceasefire and I believe the UK (Labour) party and the Scottish both want that.”

SNP annual conference
Westminster SNP Group leader Stephen Flynn (Jane Barlow/PA)

“I hope people will engage in good faith and trying to find that unified position from the UK Parliament because that in the end is more important that two political parties having a go at each other, when in actual fact what matters here is the people living in Israel and Palestine who are fearing for their lives. That’s more important than our internal politics.”

Earlier in the day, Sir Keir Starmer told Sky during the Munich Security Conference: “I’m very clear that we all want a ceasefire. The question therefore is: how do we get there?”

It comes after the Scottish Labour conference in Glasgow backed immediate calls for a ceasefire after the party’s constitution spokesman Neil Bibby called for “unequivocal” support.

Delegates unanimously backed the calls which called for an end to rocket fire into and out of Gaza, the unconditional release of hostages taken by Hamas and the restoration of essential supplies.

The motion also backed calls for a two-state solution to be reached between Israel and Palestine.

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, said: “It’s time for Sir Keir Starmer to commit to supporting our motion for an immediate ceasefire. There can be no more delays.

“Thousands of children, women and civilians have lost their life since both the Tories and Labour cowardly rejected our last motion – they cannot make that same mistake again.

“History will remember this vote.

“Questions must also be asked of Scotland’s two Labour MPs. Will they follow their Scottish leader, or their leader in London? That decision will tell you exactly where Scottish Labour MPs’ loyalties truly lie.

“With each day Sir Keir Starmer equivocates, the more innocent civilians die. This has to end – and end now.”

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