Labour axes support for Rochdale candidate over ‘new Israel comments’ as pressure mounts on Starmer – latest

Sunak accuses Starmer of ‘standing by’ Azhar Ali after Israel remarks

The Labour leadership is facing questions after withdrawing the party’s support for its Rochdale by-election candidate, amid a storm of criticism of remarks he made about Israel.

Azhar Ali had apologised after he was recorded suggesting in a meeting of the Lancashire Labour Party that Israel had taken the October 7 Hamas assault as a pretext to invade Gaza.

But a party spokesperson said on Monday evening that Mr Ali, who is understood to be suspended pending an investigation, had Labour’s backing withdrawn “following new information about further comments”.

According to a story published by the Daily Mail on Monday night, Mr Ali also said “people in the media from certain Jewish quarters” were “giving crap” about MP Andy McDonald, who was suspended by Labour after he used the phrase “between the river and the sea” in a speech during a rally.


Labour MPs feel there is a ‘disparity in treatment’ on antisemitism allegations

Labour MPs feel there is a “disparity in treatment” within the party about antisemitism allegations, the lawyer of the Forde Report has said.

Martin Forde KC led the 2022 report that found factional disputes between the party’s right and left under former leader Jeremy Corbyn, and that both sides had weaponised antisemitism.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Labour’s decision to withdraw support from its Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali 36 hours after allegations of antisemitism emerged “appears pretty shambolic”.

Mr Forde said: “If you want a fair and transparent system then it has to deal with people consistently, and I’m aware from discussions with some of the MPs within the party – who might be described as left-leaning – that they feel that when it comes to disciplinary action taken against them then things move rather slowly, but if you’re in the right faction of the party, as it were, then things are dealt with either more leniently or more swiftly.

“Now that’s the perception, I can’t quantify it, but I do think it’s something that leadership should be concerned to, in a away, dilute, or if it is in fact the case, they need to give reassurance to members of the voting public and to their members that people will be treated fairly.”

Matt Mathers13 February 2024 08:26


Labour accused of ‘going to ground’ as no front bencher on morning broadcast round

Housing minister Lee Rowley accused Labour of “going to ground” after no shadow minister appeared on Tuesday’s morning media round amid criticism of remarks made by Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali.

Mr Rowley told Sky News: “I mean, where is Labour? Where’s Labour today? Talking to people like yourselves, they’re not doing it.

“They’re going to ground.”

It was put to Mr Rowley that he was on “dodgy ground” accusing another party of going to ground when the government is “not always around”, to which he replied: “That is a party which has not changed. It’s a party which will say anything to win government, and I hope people are watching.

“They’ve got no plan and they’re getting themselves into a real mess over things like this.”

Housing minister Lee Rowley

(PA Wire)

Matt Mathers13 February 2024 08:24


Full report: Labour axes support for Rochdale by-election candidate as ‘new Israel remarks’ surface

But, in a dramatic climbdown on Monday night, the party said its support for Mr Ali had been withdrawn following “new information about further comments”. He has also been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation.

Matt Mathers13 February 2024 08:20


Rwanda Bills ‘needs tightening to avoid legal challenges’, says Tory peer

The Government’s proposed Rwanda asylum legislation “needs further tightening to avoid potential legal challenges that would prevent it from achieving its aims”, according to a Conservative peer.

Baroness Lawlor, speaking in favour of amendment 32 in a bid to disapply “relevant” domestic and international law from the Bill, told the Lords: “The first reason for this amendment is a practical one – it is pointless to make a law that is unlikely to work and that sadly seems to be the case for the present Bill unless it is amended.

“The second reason is a deeper one. There is no doubt that there’s a popular wish for the small boats to be stopped and that one of the reasons why the Government was elected was to control our borders.

“Unless it makes a law strong enough to withstand whatever challenge might be brought to it through national or international law, the Government will be failing the people on whose support the laws made to govern Britain should be grounded and trust in the democratic system – with its political parties, Parliament and government and the judiciary – will be lost.”

Tara Cobham13 February 2024 07:00


Rishi Sunak defends under-fire Rwanda policy as voters grill prime minister live on TV

Rishi Sunak has defended his under-fire Rwanda policy as the UK public grilled the prime minister live on TV.

Tara Cobham13 February 2024 06:00


PM defends Rwanda policy as necessary ‘deterrent’ to illegal migration

The Prime Minister defended his commitment to the Rwanda policy by saying it is necessary as “a deterrent” to illegal migration.

Rishi Sunak was asked by one voter at GB News’ People’s Forum, a retired woman from Middleton-in-Teesdale, why he was “so adamant” about the Rwanda policy “when public documentation shows it isn’t working and that it’s not going to work”.

Mr Sunak said it was needed to tackle illegal migration, adding: “In order to fully solve this problem, we need a deterrent.

“We need to be able to say pretty simply and unequivocally that if you come to our country illegally, you won’t get to stay.

“We want to be able to remove you either to your home country if it’s safe, like we’ve done with Albania, and for everyone else we need an alternative and that’s what Rwanda is about.

“So yes, we’ve made progress – down by third – but in order to fully solve this problem, we need a deterrent. That’s what Rwanda is all about and that is why I’m absolutely committed to getting this bill through Parliament and getting this scheme up and running.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during GB News’ People’s Forum

(PA Media)

Tara Cobham13 February 2024 05:00


Minister admits fresh Navy embarrassment ‘unacceptable’ as warship fails to set sail

Alexander Butler13 February 2024 04:00


Sunak accuses Starmer of ‘standing by’ Azhar Ali after Israel remarks

Sunak accuses Starmer of ‘standing by’ Azhar Ali after Israel remarks

Rishi Sunak accused Sir Keir Starmer of standing by Labour Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali as he spoke to members of the public during a GB News forum on Monday, 12 February. The prime minister said the Labour leader “stood by” the politician and “sent cabinet ministers to support him, until literally five minutes before I walked on tonight under enormous media pressure.” Labour withdrew its support for Mr Ali following criticism of remarks he made about Israel. Mr Ali apologised after he was recorded suggesting that Israel allowed the October 7 Hamas assault and used it as a pretext to invade Gaza. “The Labour Party hasn’t changed. It’s a con,” Mr Sunak added.

Alexander Butler13 February 2024 03:00


Senior Tories to lose seats as rural Conservative vote collapses

Alexander Butler13 February 2024 02:00


Why a parliamentary candidate can’t be removed by a party in the weeks up to an election

Alexander Butler13 February 2024 00:01

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