POLITICS

MPs Demand Recall Of Parliament Over Gaza Conflict

05/08/2014 15:49 BST | Updated 05/08/2014 16:59 BST
Yui Mok/PA Archive
The panel of guests, including Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington during a warm-up question before the recording of BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, hosted from St Paul's Cathedral in London for the first time in the programme's history.

David Cameron is facing calls to recall parliament from its summer recess to address the crisis in Gaza, as Foreign Office minister Baroness Warsi quit the government over the prime minister's position on the conflict.

Labour's Yasmin Qureshi said she was speaking to colleagues in Westminster to ask for support in demanding a recall. The Bolton South East MP used Twitter to encourage voters to lobby their MPs: "If you support the recall of parliament to debate Gaza please contact your MP and ask them to support me."

Qureshi told The Huffington Post that voters did not understand why MPs were not addressing the issue and criticised Cameron for remaining "virtually silent".

"I have never had so many emails and letters from people across all different all communities," she said. "What I find really surprising is David Cameron and many people around him can't even seem to accept that Israel is doing wrong," she said.

Labour backbencher Jeremy Corbyn has written to the prime minister to ask for parliament to recalled. In the letter, seen by HuffPost, the Islington North MP said there was a need for a new Commons debate.

"We have a moral obligation and a duty to our constituents to reconvene so that the escalating crisis can be properly debated with a view to the government being able to be more pro-active toward ending the killing and bringing those responsible to justice," he said.

"In the debate on the subject before the House rose there was considerable opposition from all sides of the House to Israel's actions, and that was now some time ago. Members' inboxes were filling up with desperate pleas for action at that point."

Veteran Labour MP Diane Abbott also backed the move, she tweeted on Tuesday morning: "Public concern about #GazaUnderAttack unprecedented. Long term implications for global politics & economy. Time to recall parliament," she said.

And Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams told the BBC on Sunday that parliament should be brought back. He said it was "very strange" that MPs could not debate Gaza.

A 72-hour ceasefire is currently in place in Gaza. On Friday, Miliband said he was keeping the "option open" of calling for a recall.

The Commons rose for its summer recess last week and will not return until September. The break means MPs will not have an opportunity to formally question ministers about the conflict and Britain's response for a month.

The rare decision to bring MPs back rests with Cameron. The Speaker, John Bercow, cannot decide to recall the Commons without being asked to do so by the government.

Parliament was last recalled in August 2013 as the prime minister sought permission to take military action against the regime in Syria.

In an interview with The Huffington Post soon after her resignation, Warsi, a former chair of the Conservative Party, accused the coalition of failing to act as an "honest broker" in the Middle East and called for an immediate arms embargo against Israel.

Labour praised Warsi for her decision to quit. Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said "most reasonably minded people across Britain will agree with the sentiments expressed" by Warsi.

"It is a sad reflection of the prime minister’s misjudgement of the crisis in Gaza that this capable Minister has felt the need to leave the government," he said.