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Vote for ceasefire at UN and stop exporting arms to Israel, Yousaf tells UK

Scotland’s First Minister has urged the UK Government to back a ceasefire in a vote at the UN and stop selling arms to Israel.

Speaking as he campaigned in Glasgow ahead of a local council by-election, Humza Yousaf welcomed last week’s vote for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” following chaotic scenes in the House of Commons.

However, he pushed the UK Government to go further.

He told journalists: “There’s a couple of concrete actions we’re suggesting the UK Government takes now that the House of Commons has, I am pleased to say, backed an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

“Those two actions would be primarily that the UK votes for a ceasefire in the United Nations – they have abstained in previous votes.

“But also that we should stop as a country exporting arms to Israel, given what are quite frankly flagrant breaches of international law.

“There can be no justification, none whatsoever, for continuing to send arms to Israel and the Israeli government.”

His comments come the week after the Commons was plunged into chaos after the Speaker decided to hear a Labour amendment to an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire.

The actions of Sir Lindsay Hoyle were largely seen as positive for Labour, meaning the party could avoid a revolt from its MPs.

Mr Yousaf said the attention paid to the actions of Sir Lindsay and subsequent criticism from MPs meant the focus was not on those in Gaza.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle
The Speaker was criticised for his actions in the Commons last week (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

“The real tragedy of last week was that we spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the Speaker, or processes in the House of Commons when what we should have been talking about was the people of Gaza that are suffering,” he said.

“Westminster has an incredible ability to talk about itself when actually what I think we should be talking about is the concrete actions the UK can take, that is why Stephen Flynn has put this motion forward.”

Another vote on the issue was expected this week, with the SNP seeking to push the UK Government to take action on the conflict, but Sir Lindsay confirmed on Monday there would be no such debate.

Speaking while of the belief the debate would take place, the First Minister said the SNP would be “more than happy” to work with Labour to ensure their support.

“We have been trying to get Labour to a much better position, I think there is no argument about the fact that the Labour Party changed their position because of some of the pressure we have been exerting publicly on them over a number of months,” he said.

“I welcome that change. It may have taken longer than any of us would have liked but the fact of the matter is the House of Commons voted for a ceasefire last week and the really important issue now is seeing concrete action being taken as a result of that vote, hence the motion.”

An FCDO spokesman said: “We have made clear that the priority in Gaza must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.”