Keir Starmer says he fears for family’s safety as Labour MPs threatened over Gaza stance

Keir Starmer has said he fears for his family’s safety, as Labour MPs reveal they have been targeted with death threats over the party’s stance on the Gaza conflict.

The Labour leader said there had been “intense pressure” on his MPs this week, as he spoke about his concerns about protecting his wife and children if he becomes PM.

Sir Keir has faced a bruising week over his refusal to back a ceasefire, with 56 Labour MPs defying his leadership in a parliamentary vote – including 10 frontbenchers who quit or were sacked.

The opposition leader said he was “not daunted” by the prospect of entering Downing Street if Labour wins next year’s general election, but that “my only concern is about my family”.

He told the News Agents podcast: “I’ve always been concerned about them. I’ve got a wife who has her own life and I need to ensure that she can live her life in the way that she wants to.

“I’ve got two children: I’ve got a 15-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl. And my biggest concern – about the only concern I have going forward – is asking myself over and over again, particularly at the moment, how do I protect them as we go into this?”

MPs on both sides of the ceasefire debate have faced abuse since Wednesday’s Commons vote. Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens had her constituency office vandalised after abstaining on the Gaza vote.

Her Cardiff office was covered in red paint and posters which accused the shadow cabinet minister of having “blood” on her hands.

“I absolutely support the right to protest, but what was done last night has gone way beyond that,” said Ms Stevens on Friday. “If you have someone write ‘murder’ across your door, it is intimidating.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is under pressure to back a ceasefire (PA)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is under pressure to back a ceasefire (PA)

Naz Shah, who quit the front bench to support a ceasefire, said she has received “Islamophobic hatred” which she has reported to the police.

She told Times Radio: “There are still people who are being hurt and abused, just because I have gone the other way hasn’t stopped me from getting abuse. If you look at my Twitter, if you look at the emails I’ve got, I mean, I’ve had to report one just this afternoon."

Asked if she had reported the incident to the police, the MP said: “Yes, just this afternoon, literally in the last couple of hours … Islamophobic hatred. It’s horrible. And this is just one for today.”

She added: “It is painful. It is worrying. It is frightening. And it’s not a nice place for any MP, anybody who’s on the receiving end of the abuse.”

The Labour leader – who has backed Rishi Sunak’s call for a “humanitarian pause” – had put his MPs on a three-line whip not to vote for a SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire. But 56 of his MPs defied the order.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir said Jeremy Corbyn’s “days as a Labour MP are over” as he condemned the former leader’s repeated refusal to call Hamas a terrorist organisation in an interview.

Mr Corbyn repeatedly refused to say if he thought Hamas was a terror group on Talk TV’s Piers Morgan Uncensored programme this week.

He later told Times Radio: “Of course it [7 October] was a terror attack and it was an awful attack.”

Sir Keir – who served in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet – said he was “taken aback and shocked” by the left-wing stalwart’s refusal to describe Hamas as a terror outfit in the TalkTV interview.

“It reaffirmed in me why it is so important to me and to this changed Labour party that Jeremy Corbyn does not sit as a Labour MP and will not be a candidate at the next election for the Labour Party,” he continued. “That is how far we have changed as the Labour Party.”

Saturday saw pro-Palestine protest organisers oversee a national day of action, instead of a large march in central London.

The direct action took the form of more than 100 smaller rallies at various locations across the UK. Previous weekends have seen thousands of protesters and counterprotesters converging on the capital.