Six more councillors have resigned from the Oxford Labour Party bringing the total up to eight in the space of a week, despite an historic day nationally for Sir Keir Starmer. 

While Labour celebrated overturning huge Tory majorities in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire in the by-elections, there has been further chaos for the Party in Oxford this week.

The six city councillors announced on Friday evening they have resigned over the "Labour leadership’s refusal to condemn collective punishment of Palestinians".

READ MORE: Labour bosses hold 'urgent' talks amid resignations over Israel stance

These councillors are Paula Dunne, Imogen Thomas, Edward Mundy, Jabu Nala-Hartley, Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini and Duncan Hall. They will now all represent their wards as Independents.

Oxford Mail: Left to right: Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, Duncan Hall, Jabu Nala-Hartley, Paula Dunne, Imogen Thomas and Edward MundyLeft to right: Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini, Duncan Hall, Jabu Nala-Hartley, Paula Dunne, Imogen Thomas and Edward Mundy (Image: Oxford City Council)

Their resignations follow news last Friday (October 13) that city councillors Shaista Aziz and Amar Latif would also step down to become Independents following a comment made by Keir Starmer where he stated Israel "has the right" to withhold power and water from Gaza.

This week's resignations were announced at a meeting of the Oxford and District Labour Party.

In a speech announcing her resignation, Ms Thomas said: “The UN has ruled that Gaza is still under Israeli occupation. Under international law, the occupying power is responsible for meeting the needs of its population.

"However, since at least 2007, Gaza has been under blockade, an act illegal under international law.

“The Labour leadership, locally and nationally, has sought to actively silence members and representatives who have acted to highlight violations of international law, banning motions, as we’ve seen, from branches, strongly advising councillors against attending demonstrations.”

Chairwoman of the Oxford and District Labour Party, Jabu Nala-Hartley also announced her intention to stand down with immediate effect at the end of the meeting.

She will join the other five councillors who resigned on Friday evening in establishing a new independent group of opposition councillors.

The councillors also released a statement further outlining their reasons for leaving.

The joint statement from the six councillors said: “At a time when it’s been crucial to call for an immediate ceasefire and a de-escalation, and to insist Israel abides by international law, Keir Starmer and the shadow Foreign Secretary have instead endorsed collective punishment, blockade, siege and mass civilian casualties.

"As Starmer has said, 'Israel has that right' to continue deadly attacks on Gazans. This is complicit in war crimes.”

Oxford Mail: Newly elected Labour MP Sarah Edwards with party leader Sir Keir Starmer at Tamworth Football Club,

It comes as Labour celebrated by-election success on an historic day for the Party nationally. 

Sir Keir Starmer said his Party had "made history" after his party dealt a double by-election blow to Rishi Sunak by overturning huge Tory majorities in Tamworth and Mid Bedfordshire.

But an Oxford councillor, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Oxford Mail: "The Oxford Labour group has been divided for a very long time.

"There is a deep split between left and right."

Ms Nala-Hartley, who resigned on the night, said “I am deeply troubled by the leadership of the Labour Party's stance on Gaza.

"As a woman who was raised under apartheid it is even more troubling that Labour leadership should choose this route.”

Dr Hosnieh Djafari-Marbini added: “Having spent my working life practicing as a hospital doctor and having witnessed the impact of poverty as a councillor in Northfield Brook, I know that it is the environment in which we live, work and grow that determines our health and wellbeing.

"The people of Palestine and Gaza have endured the impact of occupation, siege and apartheid since 1948. It is time to end the cycles of violence and devastating inequity for the sake of all residents in Israel and Palestine."

In his speech to the House of Commons, Sir Keir said he stands against the "worrying rise in Islamophobia" and "antisemitic abuse, threats, and assaults we have seen on British streets".

He added: "I do not want Britain to be a place where Jewish schools are closed, Jewish children stay at home out of fear and Jewish families feel compelled to hide their identity.

"And I do not want Britain to be a place where British Muslims feel they have to apologise for the actions of people who do not act in their name.

"The events of the past week have seen horrors beyond our imagination. So let’s send a strong message. Westminster is united, Britain is united, with Israel, against terror, for international law and the protection of innocent lives."