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Devon MPs stance on call for ceasefire in Gaza

Sunday, 19 November 2023 08:34

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

(Image courtesy: Philip Churm, Gareth Williams.)

Ceasefire won't bring about solution say MPs

Calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, which was rejected by MPs this week, would not bring about peace, two of Devon’s Conservative MPs say.

North Devon MP Selaine Saxby said a vote in parliament would not achieve a ceasefire because of “entrenched positions on both sides of the conflict,” while East Devon’s Simon Jupp believes a two-state solution is the only way forward.

Eight of the nine Conservative Devon MPs were among the 294 who voted against the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) amendment to the king’s speech calling for a ceasefire.

Some 125 members of parliament voted in favour of the amendment, including Tiverton and Honiton’s Lib Dem MP Richard Foord, the party’s only representative in the county, who, voting along his party’s line, said: “We have to try something to stop the fighting.”

Labour MPs Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) and Luke Pollard (Plymouth Sutton and Devonport), didn’t support the SNP motion.

Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View Johnny Mercer was away from Westminster on constituency business and therefore not able to vote, said his office.

Mr Pollard voted instead for a Labour amendment to the king’s speech, which called for longer humanitarian pauses to allow protection of citizens. Fifty-six Labour MPs, including 10 frontbenchers, defied the party’s leadership by not supporting the amendment.

Palestinian militant group Hamas, which forms the government of Gaza,  launched a terror attack on Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 citizens and taking more than 200 hostages.

Since then, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has says more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military in response attacks.

In the UK this week, the SNP called for the government’s position to be set aside and instead for MPs to vote to end the “collective punishment of the Palestinian people” and urged “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire.”

Selaine Saxby, who has received many letters from constituents asking for her to support a ceasefire,  said the ongoing humanitarian crisis is “heartbreaking to watch” and the human cost in both Israel and Gaza is “far too high”.

She continued: “I understand people’s desire to see more dramatic intervention in the conflict, and it is the role of parliament to both express the concerns of the British people to the government and to scrutinise their actions.

“But the current votes being proposed by various MPs do not achieve these goals, they are a distraction from the work of the foreign office and are laid in the knowledge that they will not change the ongoing diplomatic work.”

Simon Jupp, the Conservative MP for East Devon said: “Peace in Israel and Gaza must be reached as soon as possible. But [the] vote on a ceasefire wouldn’t have achieved that. This is because Hamas terrorists have no interest in peace and ultimately want to see Israel destroyed.

“The reality is that a vote in our parliament won’t make any difference to Hamas’ stated intentions to destroy Israel. Actions are more important than words. I continue to support increased humanitarian aid to civilians and support the British government’s calls for a two-state solution to finally end this cycle of violence.”

Richard Foord, Lib Dem MP for Tiverton and Honiton, who backed the SNP’s amendment, said: “We have to try something different. We need to break the deadlock and stop the fighting. For the security of Israelis and the future of Palestinians, Hamas cannot be allowed to continue in charge of Gaza. Liberal Democrats support a political solution via an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

“A ceasefire cannot be a goal in itself. It is contingent upon both parties adhering to it. On 7 October, Hamas broke the previous ceasefire to launch their violent terrorist attack on Israeli civilians. So a ceasefire that is not adhered to by both sides does not advance us towards lasting peace.”

MP Luke Pollard, representing Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, said every MP wanted to see an end to the violence in Israel and Gaza and the freeing of hostages. “We only differ about how to get there,” he added.

“I voted in parliament for longer humanitarian pauses, for protection of civilians and release of hostages. This is a necessary first step to get us to a cessation of hostilities.

“Too many Palestinians are being killed that’s why we must recharge diplomacy and re-energise efforts for a two-state solution. This is the best route to securing lasting piece in the region.”

The UK has seen a series of protest marches demanding a ceasefire in recent weeks, with an estimated 300,000 people taking part in a rally last weekend in central London on Armistice Day, the biggest in the UK since the war began.

The SNP’s amendment was defeated by 125 votes to 294, with 56 Labour rebels joining other opposition parties against the Conservatives who opposed it.  Labour tabled its own amendment to the government’s motion, which was supported by 160 Labour MPs, but was still defeated.

The following Devon MPs voted NO to the SNP’s ceasefire amendment:

Mel Stride (Conservative) Central Devon

Geoffrey Cox (Conservative) Torridge and West Devon

Anne-Marie Morris (Conservative) Newton Abbot

Anthony Magnall (Conservative) Totnes

Simon Jupp (Conservative) East Devon

Gary Streeter (Conservative) South West Devon

Selaine Saxby (Conservative) North Devon

Kevin Foster (Conservative) Torbay

 

Those who voted YES were:

Richard Foord (Lib Dem) Tiverton and Honiton

 

Those who didn’t vote on the SNP amendment were:

Ben Bradshow (Labour) Exeter

Johnny Mercer (Conservative) Plymouth Moor View

Luke Pollard (Labour) Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
 

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