A Labour frontbencher has resigned to “strongly advocate for a ceasefire” in the Middle East, in a blow to Keir Starmer amid a fractious debate over his party’s position on the conflict.

Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East, said he was stepping back from his role as shadow minister for the New Deal for Working People as it had become clear that his view “differs substantially’’ from that of Sir Keir.

Labelling the cutting of power, food, medicine and water in the Gaza Strip ‘‘collective punishment that violates international law’’, Mr Hussain said he was ‘‘deeply troubled’’ by comments the Labour leader made during an interview on LBC.

 He told Sir Keir that in the interview ‘‘you appeared to endorse such actions by the Israel military’’.

Mr Hussain said he unequivocally condemned the October 7 attacks by Hamas however a country’s right to defend itself ‘‘can never become a right to deliberately violate international law on protecting civilians or to commit war crimes’’.

“As I write, more than 1,400 Israeli and over 10,000 Palestinian civilians have been killed in the last month,” he wrote in a letter shared to social media.

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