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Pro-Palestinian activist to run against Wes Streeting in election for Ilford North

Leanne Mohamad was on Monday selected as an independent parliamentary candidate for Ilford North (X/Leanne Mohamad)
Leanne Mohamad was on Monday selected as an independent parliamentary candidate for Ilford North (X/Leanne Mohamad)

A pro-Palestinian activist has been chosen to challenge Wes Streeting in his London seat amid growing anger over Labour’s stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Leanne Mohamad was on Monday selected as an independent parliamentary candidate for Ilford North following a hustings event organised by Redbridge Community Action Group.

Her selection will complicate the shadow health secretary’s attempt to hold on to the seat amid a fierce backlash to Labour’s position on the war in Gaza. Mr Streeting was first elected as MP for Ilford North in 2019 and currently has a majority of just over 5,000.

In a post on its website, the Redbridge Community Action Group vowed to put forward a candidate that would be “strong on Palestine, NHS, racism, islamophobia and the cost of living crisis”.

It is also seeking to “increase voter engagement by getting as many people as possible to vote”.

On November 5 last year, hundreds of activists gathered outside Mr Streeting’s Ilford North Office to protest against Labour’s stance on the conflict.

Labour initially resisted calling for a ceasefire following Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in response to a brutal terror attack by Hamas on October 7.

Sir Keir Starmer faced criticism from MPs after a row over comments in an LBC interview in which he appeared to back Israel cutting off power and water in Gaza.

The comments, which he has since rowed back, prompted resignations among Labour councillors and angered the party’s MPs, even those on the front benches as shadow ministers.

But last month, Sir Keir Starmer joined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in calling for a sustainable ceasefire.

Speaking in October, Mr Streeting said that voters had been “upset and hurt” by Labour’s initial reaction to the Israel-Hamas war and that the party needed to be “louder and clearer” about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

One Labour MP told the Telegraph Mr Streeting would “have a genuine battle on his hands” following Ms Mohamad’s selection.They predicted that some colleagues could lose their seats because of pro-Palestinian candidates drawing votes away from the party. Ms Mohamad is a British-Palestinian activist who last October addressed crowds at a Palestinian solidarity march in central London.

She frequently shares posts on her Instagram highlighting the desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza and criticising western support for Israel.

Polling conducted in October by Savanta found that nearly half of Muslim Labour voters felt more negatively towards the party due to its position on the war in Gaza.