Israel-Gaza: Protests against MPs cross a line, says Rachel Reeves

Some of the protests targeting MPs over the Israel-Gaza war are "crossing the line" into intimidation, the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has said.

She made the comments after a demonstration was held in north London on Saturday close to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's constituency office.

Ms Reeves called for "civility and decency" when discussing the conflict.

Labour MPs were this week told not to vote for an SNP amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire.

On Wednesday, 10 Labour frontbenchers resigned from their jobs to defy Sir Keir and back the amendment.

In total, 56 of the MPs voted with the SNP rather than the Labour Party's official position, which is to call for "humanitarian pauses" in order to allow more aid into the enclave while backing Israel's right to self-defence.

Ms Reeves called for the targeting of public figures by protesters to stop, telling the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: "What I find very concerning is the huge pressure that MPs have been put [under] leading up to the vote and this week.

"I support the right to protest - Suella Braverman's comments about these being 'hate marches' are appalling.

"But I don't support the intimidation of MPs and I think that's what you are seeing with some of these protests now, outside of people's offices and outside of people's homes.

"MPs have got a difficult job to do - all public servants do - and this sort of intimation, taking protests to people's homes, goes beyond the line."

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters descended on Sir Keir's north London office on Saturday, chanting "Starmer, shame on you".

The vandalised office of Jo Stevens MP
Jo Stevens's constituency office was covered in red paint and banners on Thursday night

Shadow Welsh secretary Jo Stevens had her Cardiff constituency office vandalised after abstaining on the Gaza vote, and told BBC Wales the experience was "intimidating" and "threatening".

Bradford West MP Naz Shah - who quit the Labour frontbench to support a ceasefire - said she has received "Islamophobic hatred", while Conservative minister Michael Gove needed a police escort after he was surrounded by pro-Palestinian protesters at a London train station last weekend.

Ms Reeves said she had not personally been targeted but said it had happened "to colleagues" without providing specific examples, adding: "I'm afraid that some of these protests are now crossing the line."

Asked about the Labour rebellion over the ceasefire motion, Ms Reeves said she was "sorry" to see resignations.

She added: "But being leader - and hopefully next year, prime minister - Keir is going to make incredibly difficult decisions, and he's going to have to do what he thinks is right, and offer that leadership, even in difficult times."

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said he had not seen examples of antisemitism on pro-Palestinian marches he has attended, but said he would challenge it if he did.

He told the BBC: "It bothers me those chants, but they're so small a minority we've got the powers to deal with that."

Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented assault on Israel from the Gaza Strip on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages.

Israel responded with air strikes on Gaza and has launched a ground offensive. More than 12,300 people have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.