Asima Shaikh has crossed the floor at Islington Town Hall to become an independent in despair after Starmer refused to condemn Israel for cutting off essential supplies to Gaza and back a ceasefire.
Cllr Shaikh held a senior role within the council with responsibility for an inclusive economy and jobs after joining the executive in 2015, a year after she was first elected as a Finsbury Park ward councillor.
Cllr Shaikh said she was leaving the party over its failure to “defend humanitarian law” after Israel cut off supplies to Gaza.
This weekend up to one million people took to the streets of London calling for an end of the conflict – the largest UK protest since Hamas launched its shock attack on Israel on October 7.
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is Islington North’s independent MP, joined the protest, demanding a ceasefire.
Cllr Shaikh’s previous experience includes working in international development in the 1990s in South Africa, Pakistan, India, and Macedonia.
She is among more than 20 councillors who have quit Labour over Gaza, including nine at Oxford City Council, where the party has lost its majority.
Labour in Islington has a substantial majority of 49. The opposition Green party has three councillors and Cllr Shaikh becomes the second independent councillor.
Her colleague Matt Nathan, who represents Clerkenwell, quit Labour after the party blocked Corbyn from standing as its candidate in the next general election.
A Labour party spokesperson said: “We are saddened that Cllr Shaikh has resigned from the Labour Party and, as a result, from the Islington Labour Group.
“Cllr Shaikh has been a great servant to Finsbury Park since being elected, including seven years on the executive where she led our pioneering community wealth building work. We hope she will continue to work with us to deliver on the manifesto we were all elected on in May 2022.”
A quarter of Islington’s Labour councillors have added their names to calls for Keir Starmer to back a ceasefire in Gaza.
They joined 300 councillors urging the party leadership to add to the international calls for an end to hostilities to allow urgent aid to get through.
Deputy mayor Cllr Anjna Khurana, the executive member for health and social care Cllr Nurullah Turan and his colleague Cllr Michelline Ngongo, who is responsible for children, young people and families, have also signed the letter.
Another executive member, Cllr Santiago Bell-Bradford, who is now responsible for inclusive economy and jobs, also added his voice to the calls for a ceasefire.
The other signatories are Mick Gilgunn, who represents Tollington, Phil Graham, a Bunhill councillor, and Clerkenwell councillors Ruth Hayes and Ben Mackmurdie.
Tufnell Park councillor Gulcin Ozdemir and St Mary’s and St James’ councillor and mental health champion Joseph Croft also signed the letter.
They were joined by Barnsbury ward councillor Jilani Chowdhury who chairs the health and care scrutiny committee, St Mary’s and St James’ ward councillor and women and girls champion Saiqa Pandor and Laycock councillor and migrants champion Ilkay Cinko-Oner. The trio have also signed a similar letter from members of the Labour Muslim Network.
They are calling for an urgent ceasefire to save lives and want Hamas to return the Israeli hostages they snatched in raids last month which triggered the escalation of the conflict.
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This notice was published: 2023-11-17 12:00:00
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