Khan at odds with Starmer in calling for Israel-Gaza ceasefire

The London mayor says he speaks to the Labour Party leader “about many things on many occasions” but that their conversations are private, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Sadiq Khan (credit LDRS/Noah Vickers)
Sadiq Khan (credit LDRS/Noah Vickers)

Sadiq Khan has reiterated his call for a ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, while refusing to be drawn on the fact that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said he disagrees.

The London mayor continues to believe “a de-escalation of violence” in the region is necessary, but said conversations with his party leader – who has stopped short of calling for a ceasefire – were “private”.

Khan also urged Londoners protesting over the conflict to consider whether their demonstrations are making others “frightened to leave their home”, following a pro-Palestine demonstration of more than 500 people in Liverpool Street Station on Tuesday night (31st October).

The mayor called for a ceasefire on Friday last week, and was joined hours later by two other senior Labour politicians – Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Manchester mayor Andy Burnham.

Party leader Sir Keir has said he instead wants to see temporary “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting — a position also held by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the US and the EU.

Speaking today (Wednesday 1st) Khan said: “I unequivocally condemn Hamas and the actions of this terrorist organisation on 7th October 7 [which led to] the loss of more than 1,400 lives [in Israel]. They still have more than 200 people held hostage – they should be released immediately.

“I also think there’s been a lot of bloodshed, too much bloodshed, in Gaza. More than 9,000 lives lost, more than 3,000 children killed. I think we should have a de–escalation of violence, not an escalation of military violence, and I still do call for a ceasefire.”

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Pressed on whether he was actively trying to persuade Starmer to adopt the same position, the mayor replied: “I speak to my party leader about many things on many occasions – privately.”

Asked about Tuesday’s protest at Liverpool Street Station, Khan said: “I think it’s for the government, for the secretary of state for transport, and [the] British Transport Police, who are responsible for Liverpool Street to respond to any concerns there may be.

“I’ve got a different point to make, which is of course protest is the cornerstone of our democracy – I’d just say to people who are protesting, it’s just worth considering the impact your protest has on other communities in London.

“I’m particularly cognisant of the fear, the concern, the distress Jewish Londoners are feeling.

“So yes, you may not be breaking the law, but is the way you’re protesting having an impact where your citizens, your neighbours, friends, are being frightened to leave their home? I’d ask people to be sensitive about other people, how they feel.”

He added that he checked on Tuesday night whether trains were still arriving and departing as normal despite the protest in the station, and was told that they were.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper posted on Twitter: “The situation earlier this evening at Liverpool Street Station will have been of concern to many people.

“I’ve been in contact with BTP [British Transport Police] and will be meeting officers later this week. Everyone should feel safe when using our rail network.”

The protest came after more than 200 people staged another sit-in on the concourse at London Waterloo Station on Saturday.

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