Labour has withdrawn its support for Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali after criticism of remarks about Israel, a party spokesperson said.
Party leader Keir Starmer is facing mounting political pressure to distance Labour from its candidate in the Rochdale by-election today after he was revealed to be a Gaza conspiracy theorist.
Mr Ali was as secretly recorded saying Israel effectively sanctioned the Hamas atrocity against its own people to get the ‘green light’ to invade Gaza.
A Labour Party spokesperson said: ‘Following new information about further comments made by Azhar Ali coming to light today, the Labour party has withdrawn its support for Azhar Ali as our candidate in the Rochdale by-election.
‘Keir Starmer has changed Labour so that it is unrecognisible from the party of 2019.
‘We understand that these are highly unusual circumstances but it is vital that any candidate put forward by Labour fully represents its aims and values.
‘Given that nominations have now closed Azhar Ali cannot be replaced as the candidate.’
Labour has withdrawn its support for Rochdale by-election candidate Azhar Ali (pictured) after criticism of remarks about Israel , a party spokesperson said
Keir Starmer has been criticised by Jewish groups after standing by a candidate who blamed Israel for the Hamas atrocity on October 7
Mr Ali yesterday admitted his comments were ‘inexcusable’ and apologised earlier today.
Despite calls for the party to pull support for his campaign for February 29’s by-election, or even suspend his membership, the MP continued to receive the support of the party machine until tonight’s announcement.
That support included a visit from Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy, who was pictured with him at a ‘scheduled’ campaign event hours after the furore broke.
Shadow minister Nick Thomas-Symonds this morning suggested that Mr Ali had ‘fallen for an online conspiracy theory’ and recognised ‘the scale of the offence he has caused’. But he said Keir Starmer was right not to suspend him after his apology.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism last night branded Labour’s stance ‘obscene’ and said the failure to boot out Mr Ali made a mockery of Sir Keir Starmer’s claim to have dealt with the party’s ugly anti-Semitism problem.