Lib Dem Ayoub Khan quits party to fight for Perry Barr as Independent over 'hush up' claim on Gaza

Ayoub Khan, who turned detective to track down video footage to clear his name
-Credit: (Image: Solihull News)


City councillor Ayoub Khan has quit the Liberal Democrats after claiming he was told he could only be their MP candidate for Perry Barr if he agreed to 'hush up' over Gaza. Khan, a barrister, says he could not agree to allow party officials to vet any comments or videos he made relating to the Palestine cause as a condition of his candidacy.

Doing so would 'undermine my integrity and independence as a people's representative', claimed Khan today as he announced he would instead stand as an Independent. He believes he has the personal backing to unseat sitting Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, who commands a 15,317 majority. He is retaining his Aston city councillor role for now, as an Independent, and said he had nothing but respect and gratitude for his local party members and the support they had given him.

But, speaking exclusively to Birmingham Live, Mr Khan said he had decided he could not remain inside the Liberal Democrats party and also lobby as hard as he wished to for an immediate ceasefire and an end to arms sales to Israel. It was a critical humanitarian issue for him and the people he represents, he said.

READ MORE: Row over 'anti-Semitism' as Birmingham Lib Dem councillor and wannabe MP under investigation

Supporters in the community were also pressing him to stand independently, we understand. Khan was heavily criticised earlier this year over a TikTok video he posted in which he questioned the credibility of some Israeli accounts detailing the Hamas massacre of October 7. He claimed he was applying legal curiosity to question the claims, but his comments triggered complaints from local Jews and political opponents.

His party later released a statement saying he has 'apologised and deleted the post' in question, and 'agreed to undergo anti-Semitism training'. But Khan maintained he did not approve the party statement and did not intend to undergo additional training because he 'doesn't need to'. The issue was raised again at a full Birmingham City Council meeting, when two Labour councillors pressed him on his position.

In a subsequent Lib Dems investigation, he was cleared of any wrongdoing. But he has now claimed that despite his innocence, party officials wanted to make it a condition of his candidacy in Perry Barr that he sign a document agreeing to refrain from posting any comments or videos about the situation in Gaza without prior approval and that he undergoes anti-Semitism training - neither of which he was willing to agree to.

READ MORE: Labour councillors defy party orders to join rally over Israel-Hamas conflict as anger mounts

He said: "One of the key factors for me is that I was being asked to sign a document that restricted my freedom of speech. By signing it I would have been restricted from discussing the crisis in Gaza and the atrocities being carried out there, and I could never be comfortable with that. I felt I was at a crossroads politically and that continuing as a Lib Dem would only lead to a dead end."

He said he had already received 'phenomenal' local support and offers to fund leaflets, banners and events to promote his candidacy. Khan is one of several people who have now come forward in Birmingham claiming they wish to stand as an Independent in the July 4 General Election, with a strong emphasis on the Gaza situation. Akhmed Yakoob, who secured over 69,000 votes regionally as a West Midlands mayoral candidate and is now standing in Birmingham Ladywood, was the catalyst for more to come forward.

Among those Independents who have since declared they are in the running are Shakeel Afsar, standing in Birmingham Hall Green, where Tahir Ali is the incumbent Labour MP. Jody McIntyre, an anti-war and disability activist, is taking on Jess Phillips in Birmingham Yardley, and former head of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Kamel Hawwash, who is standing against Steve McCabe in Birmingham Selly Oak.

Read the full story on Inside Birmingham as we explore how many 'safe' Labour MPs in Birmingham could lose over Gaza

Mr Khan said he would not be teaming up with other Independents directly, nor with George Galloway's Workers Party, as yet, but did not rule out a future affiliation. The new-look Perry Barr constituency now includes the wards of Aston, and part of Lozells and Holyhead, all previously in Ladywood constituency. It should be a strong Labour hold, but Mr Khan said he had received strong personal endorsements for his candidacy.

"The sitting MP is hardly visible any more, he has not been standing up for local residents, and the area is going downhill fast. It has gone from bad to worse. On every measure it is failing - crime and anti social behaviour are worsening, the waiting lists for healthcare are growing, there is a lack of school places, people are living in unsafe housing that is making them ill - yet our MP says and does nothing," he claimed.

Mr Khan successfully defended a legal challenge by former Birmingham Lord Mayor, Muhammad Afzal, over the vote which saw him secure the Aston seat in 2022. His Labour opponent Afzal was found to have lied about handing out dates on the doorstep to voters, and was condemned by a high court judge for his actions.

Councillor Roger Harmer, Lib Dems group leader for Birmingham City Council, said: "I am disappointed that Ayoub has decided to run as an Independent candidate in the General Election but understand there has been significant pressure on him from the community to do so. He has been a valued member of the Lib Dem group in the council and I look forward to working with him in the future as we face up to the challenges caused by years of Labour failure in the city."