'This is about humanity' - Peterborough's MP Paul Bristow stands by his call for a ceasefire in Gaza after being sacked from his government job

‘It’s very, very difficult to see thousands of people dying on our TV screens day in and day out and not make a stand’
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Peterborough’s MP says he stands by his call for a “permanent ceasefire” in Gaza after being sacked from his government job by the prime minister.

Paul Bristow remains an MP but will no longer serve as a ministerial aide at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology after writing a letter to Rishi Sunak stating that an end to the conflict would “save lives” and allow humanitarian aid to “reach the people who need it most”.

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“My constituents and I would be grateful for your comments on the actions our Government is taking to ensure that people in Gaza do not face collective punishment for the crimes of Hamas,” the letter continues.

Mr Sunak has called for pauses to the war in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to reach civilians but has stopped short of calling for a ceasefire, insisting that Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas.

Gaza, in the middle east, is currently the site of a conflict between Israel’s military and militant group Hamas.

Mr Bristow called this group “terrorists” in his letter and asserted that their “brutal attacks” are “unforgivable”, but added – in a post on social media – that “ordinary Palestinians are not Hamas”.

Mr Bristow says he doesn't regret speaking out

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Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), Mr Bristow said that he “owed it to my constituents to speak out” on this issue but “completely understands” why the prime minister sacked him.

“I stand by it,” he said of his letter. “I completely understand why the prime minister has decided to sack me; collective responsibility is an important part of government and it was a job I really enjoyed so I regret that, but I certainly don’t regret speaking out for the thousands and thousands of my constituents that feel so strongly about this matter.

“I feel I can talk about this now with freedom better from the bank benches rather than as part of the government payroll,” he added.

Collective responsibility is a convention whereby members of a political party or administration publicly supporting collective decisions or positions on particular issues, whether or not they privately agree with them, to present a united front.

Mr Bristow says it’s ‘very difficult’ to see thousands dying without making a stand

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Mr Bristow broke rank to call for a ceasefire, which he says he did to reflect his constituents’ views – but also because it was right to “make a stand”.

“I held a surgery with some of the hundreds of people who have contacted me about this – I met with some of the [Joint Mosque Council] leaders – and with anyone with an interest in this matter,” he said.

“My job as a local member of parliament is to listen and to reflect their opinions. After all, this is about humanity and it’s very, very difficult to see thousands of people dying on our TV screens day in and day out and not make a stand. That’s my view and I totally understand why the prime minister has decided to relieve me of my duties, but I felt I owed it to my constituents to speak out.”

Mr Bristow did not back current prime minister Rishi Sunak when a replacement to Liz Truss was sought after she stepped down from the role in October last year, instead suggesting that former prime minister Boris Johnson should return to office.

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He has now been sacked by Mr Sunak – but says that the PM still has his “full support”.

“Rishi Sunak is by far the best choice of prime minister we have at the moment,” he told the LDRS.

“There’ll be a general election next year and it’s between Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak and every day of the week I would want a Rishi Sunak Conservative government. He’s got my full support – but on this issue I’m afraid I had to speak out on behalf of my constituents.”

Mr Bristow’s full letter to the prime minister calling for a ceasefire in Gaza can be viewed on his Facebook page.