A yes, a no, and an abstain – Bedford Borough MPs split three ways on ceasefire amendment

Mohammad Yasin MP for Bedford and Kempston speaking in the House of Commons
Mohammad Yasin MP for Bedford and Kempston speaking in the House of Commons

All three Bedfordshire MPs have taken different routes to voting in yesterday’s amendment to the King’s Speech, tabled by the SNP and calling for “all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire”.

The amendment was rejected by 125 votes to 294 but has created a rebellion within the Labour Party after leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would fire any Labour frontbenchers who supported the motion.

All in all, 56 Labour rebels joined colleagues in other opposition parties to demand a ceasefire, against the Conservatives who opposed it.

There are 29 Labour MPs in the shadow cabinet. However, around half of Labour’s 198 MPs hold frontbench positions, including party whips.

Ten Labour frontbenchers, including eight shadow ministers, have left their jobs over the vote.

Locally, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston, Mohammad Yasin continued his commitment to calls for a ceasefire by voting against the part whip.

The MP has been outspoken in his calls for a ceasefire, recently defending his decision to support of peaceful protests on Armistice Day.

Read: Bedford MP defends intention to attend London protest on Armistice Day

Mr Yasin has kept people updated about his voting intentions on the amendment via his social media pages, but spoke to the Bedford Independent this morning, about the reasons why he voted against his party leader.

“I have consistently called for a ceasefire and for the return of hostages, and always said I would vote for this if it came to it in Parliament,” he said.

“I can’t speak for anyone else, this is without doubt a very complex issue, but for me it was a matter of conscience to continue to call for an immediate end to the killing of innocent civilians.”

Alistair Strathern Labour's Candidate for Mid Beds MP. Image: The Labour Party
Alistair Strathern. the new MP for Mid Bedfordshire. Image: The Labour Party

Meanwhile, Labour colleague and new MP for Mid Beds, Alistair Strathern abstained from voting, despite using his maiden speech, also yesterday, to quip that he would uphold his predecessor, Nadine Dorries’ “proud tradition of robust opposition” to the Government.

We have contacted Mr Strathern’s office for comment on why he abstained but they did not reply.

Richard Fuller the Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire voted alongside 288 of his colleagues to reject the amendment. 57 Conservative MPs chose to abstain with none supporting the amendment.

In a bid to defuse the ongoing row over the party’s position, the Labour leader had tabled his own amendment spelling out his position. This too was defeated but, as the BBC reports, did gain 160 Labour votes.

It supported Israel’s right to self-defence after Hamas’s attack on 7 October, in which 1,200 people were killed and 200 people were taken hostage.

But Labour’s amendment also said there had been “far too many deaths of innocent civilians and children” since Israel began striking Gaza in response. Reports say that more than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since then, 4,500 said to be children.

North East Bedfordshire MP, Richard Fuller. Image: Richard Fuller/Facebook

The amendment also called for longer humanitarian pauses to allow aid, calling this a “necessary step to an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible”.

Sir Keir has argued that a ceasefire would not be appropriate, believing it would push the conflict into a stalemate and embolden Hamas.

The Conservatives, the United States and the European Union are also calling for “humanitarian pauses” to help aid reach Gaza. These pauses would last for short periods of time, sometimes just a few hours.

They are implemented with the aim of providing humanitarian support only, as opposed to achieving long-term political solutions.

Israel has said it would begin to implement daily four-hour military pauses in areas of northern Gaza.

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