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‘Not much difference’ between Scotland and UK Labour’s ceasefire position, says Sarwar

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has insisted there is “not much difference” between his and Sir Keir Starmer’s position on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Mr Sarwar has been calling for the ceasefire for months – unlike the UK Labour leader who says he wants a “sustainable” end to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

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However, the Glasgow MSP dismissed the suggestion there was a clear difference between the two positions, telling Sunday Morning With Trevor Philips (SMTP) that the pair were in “absolute agreement” on most issues relating to the Middle East.

He said Scottish Labour’s motion calling for an end to the conflict, which passed at the party’s conference on Saturday, was not calling for Israel to “unilaterally” stop their actions in Gaza but rather, “an to end violence both ways”.

He said: “A ceasefire means the end of violence and rocket fire in Gaza, but also absolutely has to mean an end to rocket fire coming out of Gaza.

“It also includes the immediate release of hostages… alongside humanitarian aid needing to get in and the pathway to a two-state solution.

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“In terms of where the position relates to the UK Labour Party and the Scottish Labour Party, I actually don’t think there’s much difference.”

He pointed to a speech made by Sir Keir on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, in which he said “the fighting must stop now”.

However, Sir Keir has been coming under pressure to explicitly back a ceasefire, with several members of his shadow cabinet resigning over his position last year.

There are fears of a fresh crisis on Wednesday when the SNP will force another vote on the matter in the House of Commons.

In the previous vote in November, Sir Keir’s decision to favour “humanitarian pauses” led to the departure of 10 shadow ministers and parliamentary aides who rebelled to vote for a full ceasefire.

Mr Sarwar, who has signalled support for the SNP motion, said rather than focus on the position of two opposition parties, next week’s debate should focus on how to get parliament to find an agreement as a majority.

He said: “The Conservatives still have a majority in parliament.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar speaking during the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool. Picture date: Monday October 9, 2023.
Image: Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar. Pic: PA

“How do we get a majority that sends a unified message to Israel and in Palestine that we need the violence to stop right now? That should be our ambition rather than making this a debate about two opposition parties.”

Following his remarks, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said he understands the position of Scottish Labour – but stressed he wanted to make sure any pause in fighting was “sustainable”.

He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “I fully understand that Scottish colleagues want the fighting to stop now, we’ve been saying that for weeks, so we agree with them.”

But he added: “I’m not sure that what’s flying around on Twitter says anything about it being sustainable.

“You can have a ceasefire that lasts for a few days. We want the ceasefire to last and to be permanent and to move towards the diplomatic solution. It will only be a political solution that brings an end to this.”

Sky News Source