©UK Parliament/Maria Unger

‘Growing number’ of Conservative MPs back immediate ceasefire in Gaza

A former cabinet minister has said that a “growing number” of Conservative MPs are coming round to supporting calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Kit Malthouse, who is on the record as supporting a ceasefire, told the BBC’s PM programme that many Conservatives are now moving towards this view.

He said: “I think a growing number, and certainly although there was no kind of organised whipping of people of my view, definitely we had people coming forward who were asking what I was going to do and how they should vote and what they were thinking about doing.

“So I think there is definitely growing concern.”

He also called for a rerun of the commons debate on a ceasefire in Gaza after it descended into chaos on Wednesday evening, meaning MPs did not record a vote.

Presently, the government line is not to support an “immediate ceasefire”, unlike the positions adopted by Labour and the Scottish National Party.

Instead, the Conservative Party officially “supports moves towards a permanent sustainable ceasefire” but makes clear that can only happen once Hamas is completely removed from power.

The government amendment to the SNP opposition motion on Wednesday specifically supported “Israel’s right to self-defence” and “condemns the slaughter, abuse and gender-based violence” of Oct 7.

Malthouse was one of 10 Conservative MP signatories who sent a letter to foreign secretary Lord Cameron in December last year voicing support for an “immediate ceasefire”. 

The letter read: “The case for a ceasefire seems to us to be unanswerable with many thousands of civilians dead and injured, and close to two million forcibly displaced”. 

It added: “We therefore urge you to recognise that space must be created for the emergence of a new political reality, and that space requires an immediate ceasefire.”

The missive was signed by 10 Conservative MPs including former cabinet ministers Malthouse, David Jones and George Eustice. 

Another signatory, Peterborough MP Paul Bristow, was forced to resign from his government post last year after he wrote to the prime minister arguing a ceasefire would “save lives”.

Bristow was asked to leave his position as a parliamentary private secretary (PPS) because his comments were “not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility”, a Number 10 spokesperson said at the time. 

Speaking on Wednesday, Bristow was outraged that he had not been able to record his vote in favour of an “immediate ceasefire”.

Voicing his frustration in a point of order, Bristow said: “I was one of the first Members of Parliament to call for the release of hostages, combined with a permanent ceasefire. I lost my government job as a result.

“Because people misrepresented my position, someone suggested on social media that they would show my wife a real man.

“Someone else suggested that they would attack me and my family.

“Already today, Labour councillors in my patch are tweeting that I have not supported a ceasefire. I wanted to vote with the Scottish National Party motion on a ceasefire. Can you advise me how I can make my constituents clear of my views, given that I was not able to vote?”

In response, deputy speaker Eleanor Laing said: “I think the honorary gentleman has put his views on the record by what he just said.”

Also speaking in the House of Commons debate on Gaza on Wednesday, Kit Malthouse said he was shocked to see parliament “trapped in a crazy battle of semantics” on the matter of a ceasefire in Gaza. 

He said: “The British people think our moral compass is spinning in this House, that we have no clue what we’re doing anymore, yet they see the bodies of shredded children coming across the media pretty much every day.

“They want three simple things: they want the killing of Palestinians and Israelis to stop; they want the hostages to be returned; and they want aid to flow into Gaza.”

He added: “Our job in this House as backbenchers is to vote for the outcome we want to see, not some clever process by which we might get there, or second guess what the parties are going to do, but to say now what we want to happen, and I agree with the British people that the violence must stop.

“It is time for the bloodshed to stop and for the talking to begin, and in this House, in this country, we must do what we can to make that so.”

Speaking in the same debate, another Conservative MP, Mark Logan, broke ranks by calling for an immediate ceasefire.

“I no longer in good conscience can carry on backing the line that we have taken on this side of the House, regrettably… I don’t see what favours this does for Israel”, he said. 

Rehman Chishti has been another Conservative MP to voice his support for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza in recent days. “The time has come. If not now, when?”, he asked of the commons on Wednesday. 

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