Eight frontbenchers have defied Sir Keir Starmer to back a Commons vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Four shadow ministers, including Jess Phillips, Yasmin Qureshi, Afzal Khan and Paula Barker – quit on Wednesday evening after deciding to support an SNP amendment to the King’s Speech backing a ceasefire.
Other frontbenchers: Rachel Hopkins, Sarah Owen, Naz Shah and Andy Slaughter; also face being sacked after breaking the party whip to back the amendment.
MPs voted 293 to 125, majority 168, to reject the SNP’s King’s Speech amendment calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.
Labour MPs had been ordered to abstain on the SNP move and were told instead to back Sir Keir’s position calling for longer “humanitarian pauses” rather than a ceasefire.
In a statement following the vote, Sir Keir said he regretted that party colleagues had not backed his position.
“Alongside leaders around the world, I have called throughout for adherence to international law, for humanitarian pauses to allow access for aid, food, water, utilities and medicine, and have expressed our concerns at the scale of civilian casualties.
“Much more needs to be done in this regard to ease the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Gaza.
“And in addition to addressing the present, every leader has a duty not to go back to a failed strategy of containment and neglect, but to forge a better and more secure future for both Palestinians and Israelis.
“I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight. But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand.
“Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”
Ms Phillips, a high-profile frontbencher, said it was with a “heavy heart” that she was quitting.
“I have tried to do everything that I could to make it so that this was not the outcome, but it is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving my post in the shadow Home Office team.
“On this occasion I must vote with my constituents, my head, and my heart which has felt as if it were breaking over the last four weeks with the horror of the situation in Israel and Palestine,” she said in a letter to her party leader.
The multiple resignations come after Imran Hussain also quit the front bench earlier this month over Sir Keir’s stance on the Gaza war.