A wave of Labour frontbenchers have resigned in order to back an SNP motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Afzal Khan, Yasmin Qureshi, Paula Barker and Naz Shah are among the shadow junior ministers that have defied party orders to abstain from the vote.

The MPs say Sir Keir Starmer’s calls for humanitarian pauses don’t go far enough.

More resignations are expected, as Labour said that any frontbencher “who votes contrary to the frontbench position are considered, by convention, to have resigned their position”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I regret that some colleagues felt unable to support the position tonight. But I wanted to be clear about where I stood, and where I will stand. Leadership is about doing the right thing. That is the least the public deserves. And the least that leadership demands.”

The Labour Party has been divided over its approach to the Middle East conflict, with numerous MPs and some members of the shadow frontbench calling for a ceasefire – something Sir Keir Starmer does not currently support.

The Labour leader has backed the UK Government’s position of pushing for humanitarian pauses in the fighting to allow aid to reach Palestinians trapped in the bombarded territory but stopping short of calling for a total cessation of hostilities – saying that would “embolden” Hamas.

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The resignations were expected after the SNP tabled an amendment to the King’s Speech backing a ceasefire.

Labour MPs were told to abstain on the motion, with members of the frontbench expected to resign or face the sack if they defy the party orders.

By tradition, those occupying frontbench positions are bound by a collective responsibility that they support the party’s position but, so far, Sir Keir has allowed some to deviate by expressing support for a ceasefire in Gaza.

However Labour frontbenchers who rebel to back a rival amendment would normally face the sack for breaking the party whip.

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