Peterborough MP says he 'understands' Rishi Sunak's decision to sack him from Government role after calling for ceasefire

Paul Bristow wrote letter to PM after meeting with residents
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Peterborough MP Paul Bristow has been ‘sacked’ from his junior job in government after publicly calling for Rishi Sunak to push for a “permanent ceasefire” in Gaza.

Mr Bristow wrote a public letter to Mr Sunak calling for the action last week.

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Now a 10 Downing Street spokesperson has confirmed Mr Bristow has lost his role as ministerial aide at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accompanied by  Paul Bristow MP in PeterboroughPrime Minister Rishi Sunak accompanied by  Paul Bristow MP in Peterborough
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak accompanied by Paul Bristow MP in Peterborough

Following the announcement, Mr Bristow said: “I completely understand the PM’s decision. And it is with regret I leave a job I enjoyed. But now I can talk openly about an issue so many of my constituents care deeply about. I believe I can do better from the backbenches rather than as part of the Government payroll.”

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “Paul Bristow has been asked to leave his post in Government following comments that were not consistent with the principles of collective responsibility.”

The letter, which is available to read on Mr Bristow’s Facebook Page says: “A permanent ceasefire would save lives and allow for a continued column of humanitarian aid [to] reach the people who need it the most."

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Mr Bristow also wrote on his Facebook page: "Ordinary Palestinians are not Hamas. I struggle to see how Israel is any safer following thousands of deaths of innocent Palestinians. They should not suffer collective punishment for the crimes of Hamas.” He wrote that he is “deeply briefed by the heart-breaking and devastating humanitarian crisis” unfolding in Gaza, having spoken with constituents and meeting with the Peterborough Joint Mosques Council.

The government's policy has been that any ceasefire would help Hamas, and the Prime Minister has repeatedly said Israel has the "right to defend itself". As such, Downing Street said that the Bristow was been asked to leave his job as a parliamentary private secretary for breaking rank.

Paul Bristow’s letter in full

Dear Prime Minister,

Last week following the grievous events in Israel and Gaza, I held engagement events, including surgery meetings with many constituents, and met with the Peterborough Joint Mosque Council.

There is a great deal of sorrow and pain. Some of my constituents have been directly affected. It is important that you hear this message. This is my job as a local Member of Parliament.

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My constituents and I are deeply grieved by the heart-breaking and devastating humanitarian crisis now unfolding in Gaza. Thousands have been killed and more than one million now displaced. It is difficult to understand how this makes Israel more secure or indeed makes anything better.

I met with constituents on the day it emerged that roads near the Rafah crossing were being repaired to ensure an aid convoy could bring in vital supplies. The £20 million of aid pledged by the Government is also an important first step.

Moreover your call for a ceasefire to allow for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza is also extremely welcome.

A permanent ceasefire would save lives and allow for a continued column of humanitarian aid can reach the people who need it most.

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Access to water, electricity and fuel, is vital for the Palestinian people. 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.

There was also concern raised about some of the public discourse, commentary and reporting of events. Support for a humanitarian response and for the Palestinian people does not equate for sympathy for terrorists. I have assured my constituents that this is not the case. I know Peterborough people will organise events in the near future to raise vital funds for humanitarian support and I look forward to supporting them.

I will continue to engage with my constituents on these matters. I also look forward to continuing to work constructively with the Government and in Parliament to address these humanitarian matters

The brutal Hamas attacks against innocent civilians are unforgivable. Hostages need to be released. It is challenging to understand how the present strategy of bombing Gaza will lead to the release of hostages.

I shall reiterate at every opportunity that ordinary people are not Hamas, and every innocent life in Gaza is precious. We must do everything we can to preserve life.

Yours ever

Paul Bristow MP