Oxford councillors who called it quits with Labour have emphatically ruled out returning to the party now it is backing a ceasefire in Gaza.

Amar Latif, Ajaz Rehman and Shaista Aziz were among 10 Oxford councillors to resign from Labour towards the end of last year after party leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested Israel had a right to cut off food and water from Gaza.

Sir Keir’s comment came after the deadliest attack on Israel in decades and an intense Israeli bombing campaign of Palestinians.

There was an ensuing warning that 1.1 million people in north Gaza would need to leave their homes.

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When asked whether he would consider now re-joining Labour, Lye Valley ward councillor, Ajaz Rehman, said: "No.

"By imposing the motion it appears they are not sincere and have got a total disregard for Palestinian lives.

Oxford Mail: Councillor Ajaz Rehman Councillor Ajaz Rehman (Image: Oxford City Council)"There is no genuine intent to actually want a ceasefire. They just want to avoid a bashing from the public.

"God help the country.

"What's going to happen when they're in power?"

Mr Rehman believes the Labour party had become "obsessed with power" and this had trickled down to a local level.

He suggested the party had fallen victim to "top-down imposition".

Mr Rehman referenced the regional Labour party “imposing” candidates for Blackbird Leys and St Clement’s rather than these being chosen at ward level.

City councillor Amar Latif also left the party at the same time as Shaista Aziz in October and he also said he would not be re-joining.

Both are now standing as Independents. 

Ms Aziz, who is leader of the Independent group, said it was “an emphatic no” when asked if she would be re-joining Labour.

Oxford Mail: Shaista Aziz.Shaista Aziz. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

“I feel deep relief that I’m out," Ms Aziz said.

“I dedicated seven years of my life to the Labour Party here as a councillor in Oxford.

“It’s sad but I’m not going back.”

It comes as a debate in the House of Commons on Wednesday led to speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle departing from convention as he allowed MPs to vote on a Labour amendment calling for a ceasefire during a debate allocated to the SNP.

Oxford Mail: Hundreds protested calling for a ceasefire in Oxford in November 2023 Hundreds protested calling for a ceasefire in Oxford in November 2023 (Image: Ed Nix)Mr Latif said: “The SNP amendment should have taken priority.

“People are absolutely appalled at the behaviour that was shown yesterday.

“I think it’s clear they’re continuing to provide a diplomatic cover for Israeli war crimes.

“30,000 innocent Palestinians have died.

“I think most people of good conscience can see through this.

“Even the local MP is not coming out clearly with her view."

MP for Oxford East, Anneliese Dodds, said: “Given the desperately urgent need for action given very disturbing recent news, Labour has called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

Oxford Mail: Anneliese Dodds.Anneliese Dodds. (Image: n/a)

“Labour's amendment therefore addresses not only the need to stop the fighting now, but also sets out the pathway to stopping the fighting permanently.

"Its contents are, in my view, unarguable.

“Given the urgency of the need for a clear message to come from the House of Commons in order to shift Government policy towards pushing for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, I pressed, with others, for other MPs including those from the SNP to back the motion most likely to secure broad support and have any chance of passing in the Commons - which was Labour's motion.”

Wednesday's commons debate also saw Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, who has family in Gaza, say: “Without an immediate ceasefire, my family and other families are trapped and can’t achieve anything.”

We have contacted Labour city council leader Susan Brown for comment.