Politics

Labour warns MPs against attending protests and gives warning on party flags

Labour has been accused of “shutting down any solidarity” with Palestinians after its elected representatives were given “strong advice” to stay away from protests this weekend.

Supporters of the party were also urged to “exercise caution” and asked not to take Labour Party banners to demonstrations.

An email, shared with Sky’s deputy political editor Sam Coates, says the party’s advice is in the interests of safety and to prevent colleagues from sharing a platform with “individuals that threaten to undermine the values and principles of the Labour Party”.

When explaining why they should not take party banners, David Evans, Labour’s General Secretary, said: “Individuals will not have the ability to control who they are photographed alongside and this risks threatening the Labour Party’s ability to campaign against any form of racism and discrimination.”

Follow Israel-Hamas war live: ‘Bodies of hostages’ found

The party’s position triggered a backlash among some of its members, though.

One long-term Labour member told Sky News: “It’s a shocking mindset where a once proud internationalist Labour Party is now shutting down any solidarity lest it gets in the way of Labour’s almost certain general election win next year.”

While the email does not specify which specific protests the party was concerned about, thousands have taken to the streets this weekend against the backdrop of the escalating conflict between Hamas and Israel.

Earlier this week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called the actions of Hamas “terrorism” and said “Israel has the right” to withhold power and water from Palestinian civilians.

Some in the party fear this has caused Labour to lose support among Muslim voters, and two Oxford councillors resigned in the wake of the comments.

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Pro-Palestinian protesters gather in London

Thousands take to the streets

More than a thousand officers have been deployed in London, as the Metropolitan Police warned anyone showing support for Hamas – which is a designated terror organisation in the UK – faces arrest.

Earlier this week, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said waving a Palestinian flag on British streets “may not be legitimate” if it is done to show support for acts of terrorism

It comes as civilians continue trying to flee northern Gaza after Israel’s military told them to evacuate ahead of an expected ground invasion.

It follows last weekend’s deadly surprise assault on Israel by Hamas insurgents.

Read more:
Israel still reeling as troops prepare for combat
The ‘top secret’ document behind Hamas attack
Woman arrested for supporting Hamas

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More than 3,200 people have died on both sides of the conflict so far.

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